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*' I eome to bury C«B«ar, not to praise him.** 

V L. I. 





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[Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1836, by 

Matthew L. Datis, • 
in the Clerk's Office of the Southern District of New-York.] 


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During a period of forty years I was intimately ac- 
quainted with Colonel Burr, and have reason to suppose 
that I possessed his entire confidence. Some time after 
his return from Europe in 1812, on different occasions, he 
suggested casually a wish that I WDuid make notes of his 
political hfe. When the Memoirs and Correspondence 
of Mr. Jefferson were published, he was much excited at 
the statements which were made in his Ana respecting the 
presidential contest in Congress in 1801. 

He procured and sent me a copy of the work, with a 
request that I would peruse the parts designated by him. 
From this time forward he evinced an anxiety that I would 
prepare his Memoirs, offering me the use of all his private 
papers, and expressing a willingness to explain any doubt* 
ful points, and to dictate such parts of his early history as I 
might require^ These propositions led to frequent and full 
conversations. I soon discovered that Colonel Burr was ', 
far more tenacious of his military, than of his professional, | 
poUtical, or moral character. His prejudices against Gen- / 
eral Washington were immoveable. They were formed in 
the summer of 1T76, while he resided at headquarters; 
and they were confirmed unchangeably by the injustice 
which he said he had experienced at the hands of the 


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commander-in-chief immediately after the battle of Long 
Island, and the retreat of the American army from the city 
of New- York. These grievances he wished to mingle 
with his own history ; and he was particularly anxious to 
examine the military movements of General Washington 
on different occasions, but more especially at the battle of 
Monmouth, in which battle Colonel Burr commanded a 
brigade in Lord Stirling's division. I peremptorily refused 
entering upon any such discussion; and, for some time, 
all communication on the subject ceased. 

Colonel Burr, however, renewed the conversation rela- 
tive to his Memoirs, and agreed that any thing which might 
be written should be confined to himself. With this un- 
derstanding I frequently visited him, and made notes under 
his dictation. I never asked him a question on any sub- 
ject, or in relation to any man or measure, that he did not 
promptly and willingly answer. On his part there was no 
desire of concealment; nor did he ever express to me a 
wish to suppress an account of any act of his wiiole life. 
So far as I could judge, his only apprehensions were that 
** kind friends y^ as he sometimes termed them, by attempts 
at explanation, might unintentionally misrepresent acts which 
they did not understand. 

I devoted the summer of 1835 to an examination of his 
letters and papers, of which there is an immense quantity. 
The whole of them were placed in my hands, to be used 
at my discretion. I was authorized to take from among 
them whatever I supposed would aid me in preparing the 
contemplated book. 

I have undertaken the work, aware of the delicacy and 
responsibility of the task. But^ if I know myself, it has 


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been performed with the most scrupulous regard to my 
own reputation for correcUiess. I have aimed to state 
facts, and the fair deductions from them, without the slight- 
est intermixture of personal feeling. I am very desirous 
that a knowledge of Mr. Burr's character and conduct 
should be derived from his miscellaneous correspondence, 
and not from what his biographer might write, unsupported 
by documentary testimony. With this view many of his 
private letters are selected for publication. 

I entertain a hope that I shall escape the charge of 
egotism. I have endeavoured to avoid that ground of 
ofience, whatever may have been my literary sins in other 
respects. It is proper for me, however, in this place, and 
for a single purpose, to depart from the course pursued in 
the body of the work. It is a matter of perfect notoriety, 
that among the papers left in my possession by the late 
Colonel Burr, there was a mass of letters and copies of let- 
ters written or received by him, from time to time, during 
a long life, indicating no very strict morality in some of 
his female correspondents. These letters contained matter 
that would have wounded the feelings of families more ex- 
tensively than could be imagined. Their publication would 
have had a most injurious tendency, and created heartburn- 
ings that nothing but time could have cured. 

As soon as they came under my control I mentioned the 
subject to Colonel Burr ; but he prohibited the destruction 
of any part of them during his lifetime. I separated them, 
however, from other letters in my possession, and placed 
them in a situation that made their publication next to impos- 
sible, whatever might have been my own fate. As soon as 
Colonel Burr's decease was known, with my own hands I 


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committed to the fire all such correspondence, and not a 
vestige of it now remains. 

It is with unaffected reluctance that this statement of 
facts is made ; and it never would have been made but for 
circumstances which have transpired since the decease of 
Colonel Burr. A mere allusion to these circumstances 
will, it is trusted, furnish ample justification. No sooner 
had the newspapers announced the fact that the Memoirs 
of Colonel Burr were to be written by me, than I received 
letters from various quarters of the country, inquiring into 
the nature of the revelations that the book would make, and 
deprecating the introduction of individual cases. These 
letters came to hand both anonymously and under known 
signatures, expressing intense solicitude for suppression. 

Under such circumstances, am I not only warranted in 

these remarks, but imperiously called upon to make them ? 

What other mode remained to set the public mind at ease I 

I have now stated what must for ever hereafter preclude all 

possibility for cavil on erne part, or anxiety on the other. I 

alone have possessed the private and important papers of 

Colonel Burr ; and I pledge my honour that every one of 

them, so far as I know and believe, that could have injured 

the feelings of a female or those of her friends, is destroyed. 

In order to leave no chance for distrust, I will add, that I 

never took, or permitted to be taken, a single copy of any 

of these letters ; and, of course, it is quite impossible that 

any pubUcation hereafter, if any should be made of such 

papers or letters, can have even the pretence of authenticity^ 

The Author^ 
Nbw-Yobk, November 15th, 1836. 


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Ancestors of Burr ; his father's birth ; preparations for the min» 
istry ; the Rev. Aaron Burr visits Boston ; his account of the 
celebrated preacher Whitefield ; is married in 1752 ; Nassau 
Hall built in Princeton in 1757; the Rev. Aaron Burr its 
first president ; letter from a lady to Colonel Burr ; from his 
mother to her father ; death of his parents ; sent to Philadel- 
phia, under the care of Dr. Shippen ; runs away when only 
four years of age ------.-- Page 17 — 25 


Burr is removed to Stockbridge, and placed under the care of 
Timothy Edwards, his uncle and guardian ; Edwards removes 
to Elizabethtown, New-Jersey ; Judge Tappan Reeve is 
employed in the family as a private tutor to Burr ; runs away 
to New-York at ten years of age ; enters Princeton College 
in 1769, in the thirteenth year of his age; his habits there ; 
an awakening in college in 1771*72 ; his conversation with 
Dr. Witherspoon on^ the subject ; selections from his compo- 
sitions while a student 26 — 36 


Burr's college friends ; letters of William Paterson to Burr ; he 
graduates in 1772, when sixteen years of age ; remains in col- 
lege to review his studies ; amusing anecdote relative to Pro- 
fessor S. S. SmiUi, in the Cliosophic Society, while Burr was 
acting as president ; letter from Timothy Dwight ; from Sam- 
uel Spring ; correspondence with Matthias Ogden and others, 
in ciphes ; anecdote respecting visit to a billiard-table ; enters 
the family of Joseph Bellamy, D. D. for the purpose of pursu- 
ing a course of reading on religious topics ; in 1774 deter- 
mines to study the law ; letter from Timothy Edwards 37—46 


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RemoTes to the family of Judge Reeve ; amusing letter from 
Matthias Ogden; to Ogden; from Jonathan Bellamy; from 
Ogden; from Lyman Hall to the Rev. James Caldwell 

Page 47—67 


Battles of Lexington and BunkerV Hill ; Burr visits Elizabeth- 
town, and, in company with his friend Ogden, joins the army 
under Washington before Cambridge ; great disappointment 
and mortification at witnessing the irregularities in the camp, 
and the want of a police ; letter from Roger Sherman to Gen- 
eral David Wooster ; from James Duane to General Montgom- 
ery, announcing his appointment as a brigadier-general in the 
continental army; General Montgomery's answer ; Burr sick- 
ens in camp ; hears of General Arnold's intended expedition 
against Quebec ; volunteers as a private ; forms a mess, and 
marches from Cambridge to Newburyport with knapsack and 
musket ; letters from Dr. James Cogswell, Peter Colt, &c. to 
dissuade him from proceeding with the expedition ; efforts of 
his guardian to prevent him from marching ; suffermgs on the 
march through the wilderness; escape from drowning in 
passing the rapids ; on arriving at the Chaudiere, is despatched 
by Arnold to Montgomery with information ; places himself 
under the protection of a Catholic priest, who furnishes him 
with a guide ; the guide becomes alarmed ; Burr is secreted 
for some days in a convent ; arrives in safety at Montgomery's 
headquarters ; is appointed one of his aid-de-camps ; the plan 
of attack upon Quebec changed ; Judge Marshadl's explana- 
tion of the reasons for the change ; Burr's opinion on the same 
subject; tlie attack made on the night of the 31st of Decem- 
ber, 1775 ; General Montgomery, Captains McPherson and 
Cheeseman, and all in front, except Burr and a French guide, 
killed ; Colonel Campbell orders a retreat • • - 57 — ^72 


Resolve of Congress to erect a monument to the memory of 
General Montgomery ; procured by, and executed under the 
superintendence of Dr. Franklin in Paris ; erected in front of 
St. Paul's Church, in the city of New-York, in 1789 ; Arnold 
takes command ; Burr acts as brigade major ; Arnold resolves 
on demanding a surrender of Quebec, and that Burr shall be 
the bearer of a sealed message ; refuses, without first reading 
its contents ; after reading, considers it unbecoming an Amer- 
ican officer, and declines delivering it ; receives compliment- 
ary letters for his intrepidity in the attack ; letter from Og- 


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den ; army moves to the mouth of the Sorel ; Burr determines 
on leaving it, which Arnold forbids, but he persists ; in Albany 
is notified that General Washington wishes him to come to 
New- York ; reports himself to the commander-in-chief, who 
invites him to join his family ; letter from Ogden informing 
him that General Washington wishes him to take up his resi^ 
dence at headquarters ; joins Washington's family, but soon 
becomes discontented ; on the suggestion of Governor Han- 
cock, accepts the appointment of aid-de-camp to Major-gen- 
eral Putnam ; letter to Ogden ; reasons for quitting Washings 
ton's family; letter from Paterson to Burr; to Paterson 

Page 73—85 


Some account of Mrs. Coghlan, daughter of Major Moncrieffe 
of the British army ; her residence in General Putnam's fam- 
ily ; her removal to the family of General Mifliin ; her allu- 
sions, in her memoirs, to a young American officer (Colonel 
Burr) with whom she had become enamoured ; letter of Gen-- 
eral Putnam to Miss Moncrieffe ; Burr's character for intrigue ; 
destruction of confidential papers, improper for public inspec- 
tion ; letter from Theodore Sedgwick to Burr ; from Ogden ; 
to T. Edwards ; from Ogden ; General Putnam ordered to take 
command on Long Island in the place of General Green ; Burr 
reports to Putnam unfavourably of the state of the army, but 
proposes to beat up the enemy's quarters ; is opposed to an 
action, considering it likely to prove disastrous ; battle on the 
27th of August, 1776; Burr presses upon Putnam and Mifflin 
the necessity of an immediate retreat ; council of war, and re- 
treat ordered ; General M*Dougall has charge of the embar- 
cation of the troops from Brooklyn on the night of the 29th ; 
Burr assists him; his conduct this night inspires General 
M*Dougall with a confidence in him for vigilance and intre- 
pidity which was never afterward diminished ; the retreat ef- 
fected in good order ; Burr is in favour of an immediate evac- 
uation of the city of New- York; on the 15th of September 
the British land on Manhattan Island ; General Washington 
orders a retreat, which the enemy endeavour to intercept ; 
in the confusion, General Silliman's brigade is left behind, and 
General Knox conducts it to a small fort (Bunker's Hill) in the 
suburbs of the city ; Burr discovers the perilous situation of 
the brigade, and recommends Knox to retreat ; Knox refuses, 
and denies the practicability ; Burr induces the officers and 
men of the brigade to place themselves under his command, 
and, after some skirmishes, he conducts them with trifling loss 
10 the main army ; Samuel Rowland to Commodore Morris on 
this subject ; certificate of the Rev. Hezekiah Ripley, chaplain 


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of General Silliman's brigade, respecting their retreat under 
the command of Colonel Burr; also of Isaac Jennings and 
Andrew Wakeman, and a letter from Nathaniel Judson, in re- 
lation to the same affair --•-..- Page 86 — 105 


Letter from Colonel Burr to Mrs. Edwards ; the British army 
move from Brunswick to Princeton ; General Washington 
crosses the Delaware ; letter to Ogden ; Burr ordered by 
General Washington, through Putnam, to proceed to Norwalk, 
Fairfield, and other places on the Sound, to ^ settle a line of 
intelligence,'* &c. ; on his return to camp, July 2l8t, 1777, 
is appointed by Washington a lieutenant-colonel in MaIcolm*s 
regiment ; Burr to Washington ; joins his regiment in the 
Clove, Orange county ; the British come out from New- 
York, 2000 strong, on a marauding party ; Burr marches his 
regiment thirty miles in the afternoon and evening to attack 
them ; before morning captures their picket-guards by sur- 
prise ; the enemy retreat, leaving their plunder behind them ; 
statement of this affair by Judge George Gardner and Lieu- 
tenant Hunter, with other details respecting Burr ; Putnam 
orders him to join Parsons*s brigade with his regiment, for the 
purpose of re-enforcing Washington ; on the second day of his 
march, is ordered by General Yamum to halt and defend the 
bridge at Pompton against the British ; in November, is sta- 
tioned with his regiment, in advance of the main army, at 
White Marsh, in Pennsylvania ; goes into winter quarters at 
Yalley Forge ; by the advice of General M*Dougall, he is 
ordered by Washington to take command of a strong body of 
militia, posted to defend the Gulf near Yalley Forge, all his 
senior officers having been withdrawn for the purpose of giv- 
ing him the command ; an intended mutiny suppressed by his 
promptitude and intrepidity ; is of the Lee and Gates party, 
opposed to Washington; misunderstanding with Lord Stir- 
ling ; letter from Lord Stirling ; letter to him - 106 — 124 


Letter from Malcolm to Burr ; battle of Monmouth, June 28th ; 
arrest and trial of General Lee ; Burr dissatisfied with 
Washington's orders to him during the action, in which he 
commanded a brigade ; Lieutenant-colonel Dummer, under 
his immediate command, killed ; Burr's horse shot under 
him; his health greatly impaired by fatigue and exposure 
previous to and during the action ; ordered by Washington, 
the day after the battle, to proceed to Elizabethtown to watch 
the movements of the enemy ; several notes of Lord Stir- 
ling to him on the subject ; joins his regiment ; ordered by 


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the BmroD de Kalh to West Point ; the legislature of New- 
York adopt rigid measures^ in regard to the tories ; Governor 
Clinton applies to the commander-in-chief to appoint a confi- 
dential continental officer to take charge of them, &c. ; Gen- 
eral Washington designates Colonel Burr ; letter from Robert 
Benson to Burr on the subject ; proceedings of the Board of 
Commissioners for defeating Conspiracies, transmitted in 
their letter to Burr ; letter from Theodore Sedgwick ; from 
General Lee ; Burr to Washington, asking a furlough on ac- 
count of ill health, without pay ; from Washington, granting 
the furlough, but ordering the pay ; Burr declines accepting it 
on these conditions, and joins his regiment at West Point ; 
letter from Mrs. Montgomery to Burr ; ordered by General 
M'Dougall to take command of a brigade at Haverstraw, his 
seniors having been withdrawn for the purpose ; ordered by 
M*Dougall to take command of the lines in Westchester ; let- 
ter to M'Dougall, detailing the arrangement of his pickets, out- 
posts, &c, ; to M'Dougall ; from Major Piatt ; from M^Dou- 
gall Page 125—147 


Letter from Burr to M'Dougall ; from Paterson ; from Major 
Piatt ; to M'Dougall ; from M'Dougall ; from Piatt ; from 
M*DougaU ; from General Putnam ; from M*Dougall ; from 
Samuel Young, Esq., of Westchester, to Commodore Morris, 
detailing Burr's military career on the lines - - 148 — 166 


Letter from Burr to General Washington resigning his command ; 
from Washington ; from Mrs. General Montgomery ; from 
Paterson ; from M'Dougall ; at the request 6f General M*Dou- 
gall. Burr consents, at great hazard, to be the bearer of a 
verbal confidential communication to General Washington; 
amusing incident at Townsend's iron-works, in Orange coun- 
ty, on this expedition ; in July, 1779, the British under Tryon 
land at East Haven ; Burr, although confined to a sick-bed, 
arises, sallies forth, takes command of the students in the col- 
lege green, and checks for a time the advance of the enemy ; 
Colonel Piatt's account of Burr's military life - 167 — 181 


Description of Burr's person and manner ; anecdote illustrative 
of his tact at correcting an ill-timed expression to a lady ; his 
first acquaintance with Mrs. Prevost, subsequently his wife ; 
letter from Mr, Monroe, late President of the United States, 


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kll CONTXNTt. 

to Mrs. Prevost ; General Washington to Mrs. Preroet ; from 
Paterson ; from Colonel Troup ; the same ; from Paterson ; 
to Paterson ; from Troup ; from Major Aiden ; from Paterson ; 
from Troup ; to Troup ; from Troup ; the same ; the same ; 
from Peter Colt ; the same ; from Troup ; the same 

Page 181—211 


Letter from Paterson to Burr; the same; from Troup; Burr 
commences the study of the law with Paterson, on the Rari- 
ton ; removes to Haverstraw to study with Thomas Smith ; 
capture of Andre ; Mrs. Arnold's confession to Mrs. Prevost 
of her own guilt ; scene with Mrs. Arnold at the house of Co- 
lonel Morris in 1779-80 ; Burr leaves Haverstraw, and goes 
to Albany to prepare for admission to the bar ; letter to Major 
Alden ; from Thomas Smith ; from Mrs. Prevost ; the same ; 
the same ; from Major Alden ; to Mrs. Prevost ; to Chief Jus- 
tice Morris ; to Mrs. Prevost ; Character of Philip Van Rens- 
selear --i 212 — ^238 


Burr applies to the Supreme Court for admission ; the bar ob- 
jects to his examination; objections overruled ; admitted as 
an attorney on the 19th January, 1782, and as counsellor on 
the 17th of April, 1782; commences the practice of law in 
Albany ; letter from Major Popham ; to Mrs. Prevost ; Burr 
married to Mrs. Prevost, July, 1782; letter from Mrs. Burr; 
from Judge Hobart ; from Mrs. Burr ; the same ; Burr re- 
moves to New- York ; elected a member of the legislature ; 
his opposition in that body to what was termed the Mechanics^ 
Bill, produces great excitement ; threatened riot on the sub- 
ject, page 238 — 252 — Series of letters between Mr. and JVIrs. 
Burr 263—274 


SeriM of letters between Mr. and Mrs. Burr continued from 
pages 276 — 285 — Federal Constitution adopted; Burr nom- 
inated and defeated on the Assembly ticket of ^* the Sons of 
Liberty," in opposition to the Federal ticket ; he supports 
Judge Yates in opposition to George Clinton for the office of 
governor ; Clinton elected ; soon after tenders Burr the office 
of attorney-general ; he takes time to deliberate ; his letter to 
Governor Clinton, agreeing to serve ; is appointed attorney- 
general, September, 1789 ; commissioners appointed by the 
legislature to report on revolutionary claims against the state ; 
Burr one of them ; letters to and from Mrs. Burr ; letter to his 


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daughter Theodosia; from Dr. Benjamin Rush; to Theo- 
dosia Page 286 — 318 


Report of the commissioners, in pursuance of the act entitled 
An act to receive and state accounts against the state, drawn 
by Burr ; appointed senator of the United Slates, 1791 ; cau- 
tion in correspondence ; sales of the public lands by " the 
commissioners of the land office," of which board Burr was a 
member; great dissatisfaction as to those sales; subject 
brought before the Assembly with a view to the impeachment 
of the board ; Burr exonerated from censure ; assembly ap- 
prove the conduct of the commissioners ; anecdote of Meianc- 
ton Smith and Creneral Hamilton ; Burr, during his first session 
in the United States Senate, with the sanction of the secretary 
of state (Mr. Jefferson), is employed in examining the records 
of the department ; is prevented from proceeding, by order of 
President Washington; Mr. Jefferson to Burr on the subject; 
contested election between Clinton and Jay for governor ; can- 
vassers differ as to the legality of certain votes ; apply to Rufus 
King and Burr for advice ; King and Burr differ in opinion ; 
Burr proposes to decline giving advice ; Mr. King objects ; in 
consequence, they give separate and conflicting opinions ; Burr 
becomes zealous in support of that which he has given ; seven 
of the canvassers decide on destroying the votes of Otsego, 
Clinton, and Tioga counties ; f6ur object ; statement of the 
case ; opinion of Mr. King ; opinion of Mr. Burr ; letter from 
Jonathan D. Sargeant ; subject of the canvassers taken up by 
the legislature ; protest of the minority ; reasons assigned to 
the legislature by the majority in vindication of their conduct, 
drawn by Burr ; Assembly approve the conduct of the major- 
ity ; letter from Burr to Jacob De Lamater, explaining his 
own course in the contested election between Clinton and 
Jay ----- 318—359 


Burr appointed a judge of the Supreme Court; declines, but 
Governor Clinton does not report the fact until called upon 
by a resolution of the legislature ; chairman of the Senate 
Committee to answer the president's speech, the first session 
of his membership ; reports thei answer next day, which is 
adopted without opposition ; defeats a bill to increase the 
standing army by his single objection ; letters to Mrs. Burr ; 
series of letters to his daughter Theodosia ; teaches his 
slaves to read and write ; letters from one of them 369—405 


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Burr's manner of speaking ; Albert Gallatin appointed a sen- 
ator of the United States ; objections to the legality of his 
appointment ; Burr ardent in support of Gallatin ; note of 
John Taylor, of Virginia, to Burr, on the subject of replying to 
Rufus King ; Senate decide against Gallatin ; Burr offers res* 
olutions against sending an envoy extraordinary to England, 
in 1794, and against selecting a judge for the station ; votes 
against John Jay ; discontents of the Democratic party with 
General Washington for continuing Grouvemeur Morris in 
France; certain members of Congress recommend Colonel 
Burr to fill the station ; appoint Mr. Madison and Mr. Monroe 
to notify the president of their wishes ; General Washington 
refuses to make the appointment, but agrees to nominate Mr. 
Monroe ; Burr's opposition to Jay's treaty ; proposes amend- 
ments, which are rejected ; letter to Thomas Morris ; detail 
of legislative proceedings in procuring the charter of the 
Manhattan Company; Burr's conduct on the occasion; his 
duel with John B. Church, Esq» ; letter of Burr to , giv- 
ing a history of his transactions with the Holland Land Com- 
pany ; his daughter married ; Miss Burr to Joseph Alston ; 
letter from Alston to Miss Burr on early marriages; con- 
tested election in New- York in 1800; Burr a candidate for 
the office of Vice President ; a tie vote with Mr. Jeffer- 
son - - . - • , - Page 405^436 


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Thb grandfather of Colonel Aaron Burr, the subject of 
these memoirs, was a German by birth, and of noble par- 
entage. Shortly after his arrival in North America, he set- 
tled in Fairfield, Connecticut, where he purchased a large 
tract of land, and reared a numerous family. A part of this 
landed estate remained in the possession of his lineal de- 
scendants until long after the revolutionary war. During 
Colonel Burr's travels in Germany, in the year 1809, va- 
rious conununications were made to him, orally and in wri- 
ting, by di£ferent branches of the Burr family, some of whom 
were then filling high and distinguished scientific and lite- 
rary stations. 

His father, the Rev. Aaron Burr, was bom in Fairfield, 
on the 4th day of January, 1715, and was educated at Yale 
College. In a manuscript journal which he kept, and which 
has been preserved, he says, "In September, 1736, with 
many fears and doubts about my quaUfications (being under 
clouds with respect to my spiritual state), I offered myself 
to trials, and was approved as ^ candidate for the min- 
istry. My first sermon was preached at Greenfield, and 
immediately after I came mto the Jerseys. I can hardly 
give any account why I came here. After I had preached 
for some time at Hanover, I had a call by the people of New<» 

VoL.1,— C 


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ark ; but there was scarce any probability that I should suit 
their circumstances, being young in standing and trials. I 
accepted of their invitation, with a reserve, that I did not 
come with any views of settling. My labours were univer- 
sally acceptable among them, and they manifested such great 
regard and love for me, that I consented to accept of the 
charge of their souls. 

"A.D* 1738-39, January the 26th, I was set apart to 
the work of the ministry, by fastmg, prayer, and imposition 
of hands. God grant that I may ever keep fresh upon my 
mind the solemn charge that was then given me ; and never 
indulge trifling thoughts of what then appeared to me of 
such awful importance. The ministers who joined in this 
solemn transaction were Mr. Dickinson, who gave the charge, 
and Mr. Pierson, who preached. Mr. Dickinson, who pre- 
sided at this work, has been of great service to me by his 
advice and instruction, both before and since my ordination. 

" In November, 1739, 1 made a visit to my friends in New* 
England, and again in March, 1740. In the following Au« 
gust I was in a declining state of health, and by the advice 
of my physicians visited Rhode Island. From thence I 
proceeded to Boston. On the 19th of September I^ heard 
Mr. Whitefield preach in Dr. Colman's church. I am more 
and more pleased with the man. On the 21st, heard him 
preach in the Commons to about ten thousand people. On 
Monday, visited him, and had some conversation to my great 
satisfaction. On the 23d, went to hear him preach in Mr. 
Webb's church, but the house was crowded before Mr. White- 
field came. The people, especially the women, were put 
into a fright, imder a mistaken notion that the galleries were 
falling, which caused them to hurry out in such a violent man- 
ner, that many were seriously injured and five killed. The 
same day, Mr. Whitefield preached at Mr. Gee*s church. In 
the evening he preached at Dr. Sewall's church. On Sat- 
urday I went to hear him in the Commons ; there were about 
eight thousand hearers. He expounded the parable of the 


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1752.] HBM0IR8 OF AARON BURR. 19 

prodigal son in a Tery moving manner. Many melted into 
tears. On the 4th of October, being on my return to New- 
Jersey, I arrived at Fairfield, where I remained two days 
with my friends." 

In the year 1748, Governor Belcher, of New- Jersey, by 
and with the approbation of his Majesty's Council, granted 
a charter to the college of New- Jersey, subsequently known 
as Nassau Hall. This college was opened in Newark, the 
students living in private families. The Rev. Aaron Burr 
was appointed the first president. In the year 1754 or 1755, 
the trustees commenced erecting the college in Princeton ; 
and in 1757 it was so far completed that the students, about 
seventy in number, were removed to the building. 

In June, 1752, President Burr, being then in his 38th 
year, was married to Esther Edwards, the daughter of Jon- 
athan Edwards, a distinguished metaphysician and divine. 
He was the second president of Princeton College, being 
called to that station on the decease of his son-in-law, Pres- 
ident Burr. Thus, the father of Colonel Aaron Burr, and 
the grandfather on his mother's side, were, in succession, at 
the head of that seminary of learning. 

President Burr was alike celebrated for his eloquence and 
piety ; but, withal, he possessed no inconsiderable degree of 
eccentricity. His courtship and marriage partook of it. 
Miss Edwards, after the preliminaries were arranged, was 
brought to New-Jersey to be married. The occurrence 
created much conversation, and gave rise to some newspa^ 
per commentary. The following is extracted from the New-i 
York Gazette of the 20th of July, 1752. 

'' A letter to a gentleman fifom his fiiend, dated 

"July 7th, iTsa, 
" As you are a known and peculiar votary to the state of 
celibacy, I judged it would do you no disservice to ac- 
quaint you of a late occurrence, which sufficiently evi-*. 


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dences, that after the most mature consideration, some of our 
wisest and best men do prefer the endearment of the nup* 
tial bed. 

^^ Abont eight days since, the Rev. Aaron Burr, president 
of the College of New- Jersey, was married to a daughter of 
the renowned Mr. Jonathan Edwards, late of Northampton. 
She is a young lady of about twenty^one. Her person may 
be called agreeable ; her natural genius seems to be spright- 
ly, and, no doubt, is greatly ftnproved by a very virtuous edu- 
cation. In short, she appears to be one every way qualified 
to make a man of sense and piety happy in the conjugal re- 
lation. As to the courtship or marriage, I shall not descend 
to particulars ; but only observe, in general, that, for some 
centuries, I suppose there has not been one more in the 
patriarchal mode. 

** I hope, sir, that this mstance, both as to matter and 
form, will have its genuine influence upon you, and as well 
bear a part in convincing you that wedlock is incomparably 
preferable to the roving uneasiness of the single state, as to 
direct you, when you are choosing your mate, that, instead 
of acting the modern gallant, wisely to imitate this example, 
and endeavour to restore courtship and marriage to their 
original simplicity and design. 

" Philooamus." 

At different times Colonel Burr received friendly anony- 
mous and other communications, recommending to him the 
practice of a religious life. It is a remarkable fact, that in 
almost every such instance he is referred to the letters of 
his mother. From a communication to him, written by a 
lady, the following is extracted. If it should meet her eye 
as it probably will, it is hoped that she will pardon this free- 
dom. Her name is suppressed, and will not be known, un- 
less through her own instrumentality. 


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ilJ^ixUb cAjutf^ J^jtM^ f/UUT- it^UM ^'^^ni . lu^^ j 

1752.] mkmoirs of aaron bui^. 21 ^f^ 


" I trust the purity of the motives by which I am actuated 
will find an apology in your bosom for the Uberty I assume 
in addressing you on a subject which involves your eternal 

" Here, in the wilds of , I have found an extract of a 

letter, written by your inestimable mother nearly sixty years 
ago, of which you are the principal subject ; and a transcript 
of which I shall enclose for your perusal. Perhaps you 
will think me a weak, presumptuous being ; but permit me, 
dear sir, to assure you, this does not proceed from a whim of 
the moment. It is not a mere transient gust of enthusiasm. 
The subject has long been heavy on my mind. I have 
more than once resolved to converse with you freely ; to 
tell you how my own feelings were affected relative to your 
situation ; but my faltering tongue refused to obey the im- 
pulse of my soul, and I have withdrawn abruptly, to conceal 
that which I had not confidence to communicate. But meet- 
ing (I believe providentially) with this precious relic has 
determined me. 1 will write, and transmit it to you. I am 
too well convinced of the liberality of your sentiments ; but I 
still believe you retain an inherent respect for the reUgion of 
your forefathers. 

" I have often reflected on your trials, and the fortitude 
with which you have sustained them, with astonishment. 
Yours has been no common lot. But you seem to have for- 
gotten the right use of adversity. Afflictions from Heaven 
*are angels sent on embassies <rf love.' We must improvo^ 
and not abuse them, to obtain the blessing. They are com- 
missioned to stem the tide of impetuous passion ; to check 
inordinate ambition ; to show us the insignificance of earthly 
greatness ; to wean our affections from transitory things, and 
elevate them to those realities which are ever blooming at 
the right hand of God. When affliction is thus sanctified, 
' the heart at once it humbles and exalts.' 


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"Was it philosophy that supported you in your trials? 
There is an hour approaching when philosophy wiU fail, and 
all human science will desert you. What then wiU be your 
substitute ? Tell me, Colonel Burr, or rather answer, it to 
your own heart, when the pale messenger appears, how will 
you meet him — * undamped by doubts, undarkened by de- 
spair V 

" The enclosed is calculated to excite mingled sensations 
both of a melancholy and pleasing nature. The hand that 
penned it is now among *the just made perfect.' Your 
mother had given you up by faith. Have you ever ratified 
the vows she made in your behalf? When she bade you 
a long farewell, she commended you to the protection of 
Him who had promised to be a father to the fatherless. 

" The great Augustine, in his early years, was an infidel 
in his principles, and a libertine in his conduct, which his 
pious mother deplored with bitter weeping. But she was 
told by her friends that * the child of so many prayers and 
tears could not be lost;* and it was verified to her happy 
experience, for he afterward became one of the grand 
luminaries of the church of Christ. This lemark has often 
been applied to you; and I trust you will yet have the 
happiness to find that *the prayers of the righteous' have 
* availed much.' 
'** One favour I would ask : when you have done with this, 
^^ destroy it, that it may never meet the eye of any third per- 
son. In the presence of that God, before whom the inmost 
jC : recesses of the heart are open, I have vmtten. I con- 
/^ \ suited him, and him only, respecting the propriety of ad- 

I dressing it to you ; and the answer he gave was, freedom 
; in writing, with a feeling of the deepest interest impressed 
/ upon my heart. /• 

1 «z. y 

^*To Col. A. Burr." 



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" Princeton, Not. 2, 1757. 

"Honoured Sir, 
" Your most affectionate, comforting letter, by my brother, 
leas exceedingly refreshing to me, although I was some- 
what damped that I should not see you until spring. But 
it is my comfort in this disappointment, as well as under 
all my afflictions, that God knows what is best for me and 
for his own glory. Perhaps I depended too much on the 
company and conyersation of such a near, and dear, and 
affectionate father and guide. I cannot doubt but all is for 
the best, and I am satisfied that God should order the 
affair of your removal as shall be for his glory, whatever 
comes of me. Since I wrote my mother's letter, God has 
carried me through new trials, and given me new supports. 
My Uttle son* has been sick with the slow fever ever since 
my brother left us, and has been brought to the brink of the 
grave. But I hope, in mercy, God is bringing him up 
again. I was enabled to resign the child (after a severe 
struggle with nature) with the greatest freedom. God 
showed me that the child was not my own, but his, and that 
he had a right to recall what he had lent whenever he 
thought fit ; and I had no reason to complain, or say God 
dealt hard with me. This silenced me. But how good is 
God ! He hath not only kept me from complaining, but 
comforted me, by enabling me to offer up the child by 
faith. I think, if ever I acted faith, I 3aw the fiuness 
there was in Christ for Uttle infants, and his willingness to 
accept of such as were offered to him. * Suffer little chil- 
dren to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is 
the kingdom of God,' were comforting words. God also 
showed me, in such a lively manner, the fulness that was 
m himself of all spiritual blessings, that I said. Although all 

* CoL Bun, at that time about twenty months old. 


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[Aged 2. 



^% i 

streams were cut off, yet, so long as my God lives, I have 
enough. He enabled me to say — ' Although thou slay me, 
yet will I trust in thee.' In this time of trial I was led to 
enter into a renewed and explicit covenant with God, m a 
•more solemn manner than ever before, and with the great- 
eat freedom and delight. After much self-examination and 
prayer, I did give up myself and children to God with my 
whole heart. Never, until now, had I a sense of the privi- 
lege we are allowed in covenanting with God ! This act 
of my soul left my mind in a quiet and steady trust in God. 
A few days after this, one evening, m talking of the glori- 
ous state my dear departed must be in, my soul was car- 
ried out in such longing desires after this glorious state, 
^t I was forced to retire from the family to conceal my 
joy. When alone, I was so transported, and my soul car- 
ried out in such eager desires after perfection, and the 
full enjoyment of God, and to serve him uninterruptedly, 
that I think my nature would not have borne much more. 
I think I had that night a foretaste of Heaven. This frame 
continued, in some good degree, the whole night. I slept 
but little ; j^id when I did, my dreams were all of heav- 
^y and divine things. Frequently since I have felt the 
•ame in kind, though not in degree. Thus a kind and 
gracious God has been with me in six troubles, and in 
«even. But, oh ! sir, what cause of deep humiliation and 
Abasement of soul have I, on account of remaining corrup- 
tion which I see working, especially pride! Oh, how 
flftany shapes does pride cloak itself in ! Satan is also 
^busy shooting his darts ; but, blessed be God, those temp- 
Utions of his that used to overthrow me, as yet, have not 
touched me. Oh to be delivered from the power of Satan 
•as well as sin ! I cannot help hoping the time is near. 
God is certainly fitting me for himself; and when I think 
it will be soon that I shall be called hence, the tliought is 

^< Your dutiful and affectionate daughter, 

''Esther Burr.'' 


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Aged 4.] 



Such w^e the parents of Colonel Aaron Burr. Of the 
natural guardianship and protection of both he was deprived 
before he had reathed the third year of his age. He was 
bom on the 6th of February, 1756, in Newark, State of 
New- Jersey. His father died in August, 1757; and his 
mother the year following, leaving two children, Aaron, 
and his sister Sarah. She subsequently became the wife 
of Judge .Tappan Reeve, of/ Connecticut. On the decease 
of his father, Cdonel Burr inherited a handsome estate. 

In the )rear 1760 Aaron was sent to Philadelphia, under 
the care of an aunt and Dr. Shippen. For the family erf 
the doctor he entertained a high degree of respect. He 
frequently spoke of them in the kindest terms, and recur- 
red to this early period of his history with emotions of 
gratitude for their care and protection. 

Boswell, in his Life of Johnson, remarks that, ^* In foUow- 
ing so very eminent a man firom his cradle to his grave, 
every minute particular which can throw light on the prog- 
ress of his mind, is interesting." Johnson himself, in the 
Life of Sydenham, says " There is no instance of any 
man^ whose history has been minutely related, that did not, 
in every part of life, discover the same proportion of intel- 
lectual vigour." 

These high authorities are now quoted in justification of 
some of the details which will be given in the progress of- 
ihis work, and Which, in themselves, may appear trifling and 
unimportant. When Aaron was about four years old, he 
had some misunderstanding with his preceptor, in conse- 
quence of which he ran away, and was not found until the 
third or fourth day after his departure from home; thus 
indicating, at a tender age, that fearlessness of mind, and 
determination to rely upon himself, which were character- 
istics stamped upon every subsequent act of his Ufe. 
Vol. I.— D 2 






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86 xiMoiRS ow AAKOM woMR. [Aged 5 


In 1761 he was remored to Stockbridge, in Massaclm* 
•etts, and placed in the family of Timothy Edwaids, his 
mother\i eldest brother. In 1762 his maternal uncle^ 
Timothy, removed to Elizabethtown, New-Jersey. Aaron 
and his sister Sarah remained in the fuxuly unUl the for* 
mer entered college, and the latter became the wife of 
Judge Reeve* A private tutor was employed for them in 
die house of Mr. Edwards. For a considerable portion j(tf 
the time, Judge Reeve was engaged in that capacity^ 

When about ten years dd, Aaron evinced a desiis to 

make a voyage to sea ; and, with this object in view, rail 

away from his uncle Edwards, and came to the city of New* 

York. He entered on board an outward-bound vessfd as 

cabinrboy. He was, however, pursued by his guardian, 

SBxt his place of retreat disconrered. Young Burr, one day, 

>^ . while busily employed^ perched his uncle coming down 

--N^ - I the wharf, and immediately ran up the shrouds^ and dam* 

5 >^' ' bered to the topgallant-mast head. Here he temained, and 

^ ^ t ' peremptorily revised to come down, or be taken down, 

^^ until all the preliminaries of a treaty of peace were agreed 

\H>' upon. To the ' doctrine of unccmditional submission he 

neir^ gave his assent. 

In 1769 Burr entered Princeton College; where, owing 
to his extreme youth and smallncss of stature, he was for* 
ced to ^(»nmence with the sophomore, although, upon ex* 
amination, he was found qualified to enter the junior class* 
This was a source of extreme mortification to him, and 
especially as he had been prepared, and was every way 
qualified, to enter the preceding year. From his infancy 
Burr was of a slender frame, and appeared to be delicately 



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Aged 116.] XBKOiiKs of aaron xver. £? ^^T^ ^^ 

fanned ; but exhibited great muscular strength, and was )J^ 
able to endure excessire fatigue of body and mind. 

Previous to entering college, young Burr had frarmed ex<^ 
traordinary notions of tl» acquirements of collegiates ; and 
felt great apprehension lest he should be found inferior to 
his classmates. He was therefore, at first, indefatigable as ^. 

well as systematic in his studies. He soon discovered that 
he could not pursue them after dinner with the same advan* 
tage that he could before. He suspected that this was 
owing to his eating too abundantly. He made the ei^ri-> / 
ment, and the result convinced him that his apprehensions \ 
were well founded. He immediately adc^pted a system of \ 
regimen, to which, in some degree, he adhered through 
bfe. So abstemious was he during the greater part of thd 
first year after his entrance into college, that it operated 
powerfully upon him, and he was supposed to be in bad ; 
health. He was in the habit of studjring sixte^ <Mr eighteen i 
hotnrs of the twenty^^four, until the period^ <tf e x am in a tiOT i \ 
attired^ when he discovered that the pj**gress he had made f 
was so mudi beyond his associates, xhat he formed an opil»- i| 
iofei as contemptuous w it bad b^en exalted of his- e^e^ 
iriends. The effect of this was uhioMtdy very iBJimM» 
upon his habits. 

During the last year that he remained in college, he passed 
a life of idleness, negligence, and, in some measure, of dissi- 
pation. He applied himself but little \^ his studies, and 
was in the constant pursuit of pleasure. He graduated^ 
however, when only sixteen years of age, with a reputation 
&r talents, and receiving die highest academic honours the 
fcculty could bestow. 

In the year 1771-72, there was in the college what was 
termed, in religious phraseology, " an awakening." A large^ 
portion of the collegians became converted. It was only a 
short time before Burr graduated, and in the midst of hi9 
hilarity and amusements. He was frequently appealed to 
l^ his associates, and threatened with the most terrific con- 



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sequences if there was not an inward as well as an outward 
change. From his infancy Bun's education had been strictly 
moral ; and strong impressions had been made upon his mind 
as to the existence of a Deity, and the accountability of man* 
Vet this awakening did not seem to him right in all its parts* 
He determined, therefore, to have a free and full conversa- 
tion with Dr. Witherspoon, the then president of the college, 
f^J^ \ ■ ^^ ^® subject. The result of that conversation in some 
measure tranquiUized young Burr. The Rev. Dr. assured 

\ him that it was not true and rational religion, but fEUtaticism, 

\ that was operating upon his friends. 

I Among the papers preserved by Colonel Burr are the origi- 
nals of a number of essays or orations, written and read by 
him, in conformity with the regulations of the college, while 
yet a student. They are without dates ; but, as he graduated 
in 1T72, they must have been composed when he was of an 
age between ^lirteen and sixteen. A few of them are here 
inserted, as exhiV^ting his manner of writing, and the matu- 
rity and tone of his sodnd. The opinions which he formed, 
while yet in college, as ^ public speaking and the selectiim 
of language, he appears n%ver to have changed. The style 
which he then recommended seems ever after to have been 
his model. 

Read in College^ by Aanm Burr. — On Style. 

** I have often observed, that it is very common for those 
who are ambitious of excelling in tomposition, to study 
swelling words, pompous epithets, and laboured periods. 
This is often practised, especially by young vmters. It is, 
however, generally condemned as a fault, and sometimes 
tXK) by those who practise it themselves. An elegant sim- 
plicity of language is what every one should strive to obtain. 
Besides the arguments which are usually offered on this 
head, there is one very important one^ which is commonly 
not much attended to. 

'' It is the business of every vmter to acquire command of 


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Aged 15.] 


language, in order that he may be able to write witl^t ease 
and readiness, and, upon any occasion, to form extempore 
discourses. Unless he can do this, he will never shine as a 
speaker, nor will he ever make a figure in pnvate conversa- 
tion. But to do this, it is necessary to study simpUcity of 
style. There never was a ready speaker, whose language 
was not, generally, jdain and simple ; for it is absolutely im- 
possible to carry the laboured ornaments of language, the 
round period, or the studied epithet, into extempore dis- 
courses ; and, were it possible, it would be ridiculous. We 
have learned, indeed, partly from reading poetry, and partty 
from reading vicious compositions, to endure, and too often 
to admire, such stiff and laboured discourses in vnriting ; but 
if it were even possible for a man to speak in the same pom- 
pous diction in which Browne has written his vulgar errors, 
he would certainly be^ very disagreeable. This reason, 
among others, may be assigned for it ; that however such 
fcdse ornaments may please for a time, yet, when a long and 
steady attention is required, we are tired and disgusted with 
every thing which increases our labour, and diverts the at- 
tention from the subject before us. A laboured sjtyle is a 
kbour even to the hearer. A simple style, like simple food, 
preserves the appetite. But a profusion of ornament, Uke a 
profrision of sweets, palls the appetite and becomes disgusting. 
A man might as soon think of filling his stomach with sweet- 
meats, as going through a long debate filled with pompous 
epithets and sounding language. If we have any doubt of 
its being ridiculous, let us only suppose a man arguing an 
abstruse subject in metaphysics, in the blank verse of Mil- 
ton, or the exact rhymes of Pc^e. The absurdity is the 
same, only different in degree. I would not be understood 
to cut off an extempore speaker from subUme expressions ; 
because I do not suppose these to be inconsistent with sim- 
jdicity of style. I really doubt if there be any such thing 
as sublimity of style, strictly speaking. But, indeed, rather 
believe that the sublime depends upon the thoughts, which 

' ;/ 


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are the moie sublime by being clearly and simply expressed. 
This, howerer, is not material at present. It is certainly 
impossible for a speaker to carry laboured periods into his 
extempore discourses : it is no less certain, that in general, 
a simple style is to be preferred, and that he would be ridicu- 
lous and disagi'eeable if he could do it ; and as extempore 
speaking is a great object, which we ought to have in view 
in the formation of our style, this may be used as one argu- 
ment why we should study a simple style.'* 

Tlie Passions, 

** Amid the variety of literary pieces which have in all 
l^es been ushered into the world, few, if any, afford greater 
satisfaction than those that treat of man. To persons of a 
speculative nature and elegant taste, whose bosoms glow 
with benevolence, such disquisitions are peculiarly deUght- 
fill. The. reason, indeed, is obvious ; for what more neces* 
fary to be learned and accurately understood? what more 
near and interesting ? and, therefore, what more proper to 
engage the attention ? Well may I say, with our ethic poet> 

" ' The proper study of mankind is maa.* 

♦^ If we take a view of the body only, which may be called 
die shell or external crust, we shall perceive it to be formed 
with amazing nicety and art. How are we lost in wonder 
when we behold all its component parts ; when we behold 
diem, although various and minute, and blended together al- 
most beyond conception, discharging theb peculiar fimctions 
without the least confusion. All harmoniously conspiring 
to one grand end. 

" But when we take a survey of the more sublime parts 
ef the human frame ; when we* behold man's internal make 
and structure ; his mental faculties ; his social propensions, 
and those active powers which set all in motion — ^the pas* 
$ions, — ^what an illustrious display of consummate wisdom is 
presented to our admiring view ! What brighter mark-r^ 
what stronger evidence need we of a God? The scanty 


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Aged 15.] 1UMOIR8 OF aaroh bvrk. 81 

limits of a few minutes^ to yMc3i I am ccmfined, would not 
pennit me, were I equal to the task, to enter into a particu- 
lar examination of all man's internal powers. I shall there* 
fore throw out a few thoughts on the passions only* 

" Man's mental powers, being in their nature sluggish and 
inactive, cannot put themselves in motion. The grand de- 
sign then of the passions is, to rouse them to action. These 
lively and vigorous principles make us eager in the pursuit 
of those things that are approved by the judgment ; keep 
the mind intent upon proper objects, and at once awake to 
action all the powers of the soul. The passions give viva- 
city to all our operations, and render the enjoyments of life 
pleasing and agreeable. Without them, the scenes of the 
world would affect us no more than the shadowy pictures of 
a morning dream. 

" Who can view the w<»rk8 of nature, and the productions 
of art, vdthout the most sublime and rapturous emotions ? 
Who can view the miseries of others, vrithout being dis- 
solved into compassion ? Who can read human nature, as 
represented in the histories of the world, without burning to 
chastise the perpetrators of tyranny, or glowing to imitate the 
assertors of freedom ? But. were we of a sudden stripped 
of our passions, we should survey Uie works of nature and 
the productions of art with indifference and neglect. We 
should be unaffected with the calamities of others, deaf to 
the calls of pity, and dead to all the feeUngs of humanity. 
Without generosity, benevolence, or charity, man would be a 
grovelling, despicable creature. Without the passions, man 
would hardly rank above the beasts. 

" It is a trite truth, that the passions have too much influ- 
ence over our sentiments and opinions. It is the remark of 
a late author, that the actions and sentiments of men do as 
naturally follow the lead of the passions, as the effect does 
the cause. Hence they are, by some, aptly enough, termed 
the principles of action. Vicious desires will produce vicious 
practices ; and men, by permitting themselves to think of 


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[Aged 15., 

indidging irregular passions, corrupt the understanding, which 
is the source of all virtue and morality. The passions, then,, 
if properly regulated, are the gentle gales which keep life 
from stagnating ; but, if let loose, the tempests which tear 
every thing before them. Too fatal observation will evince 
the truth of this. 

" Do we not frequently behold men of the most sprightly 
genius, by giving the reins to their passions, lo9t to society, 
and reduced to the lowest ebb of misery and despair 1 Do 
we not frequently behold persons of the most penetrating dis- 
cermnent and happy turn for poUte Uterature, by mingling 
with the sons of sensuality and riot, blasted in the bloom of 
life? Such was the fate of the late celebrated Duke of 
Wharton, Wilmot, earl of Rochester, and Villers, duke of 
\ Buckingham, three noblemen, as eminently distinguished by 
I \ their wit, taste, and knowledge, as for their extravagance, 
\ \ revelry, and lawless passions. In such cases, the most 
chsuming elocution, the finest fancy, the brightest blaze of 
geiiius, and the noblest burst of thoughts, call for louder ven- 
geance, and damn them to lasting infamy and shame. 

" A greater curse cannot, indeed, befall community, than for 
princes and men in eminent departments to be under Uie* in- 
fluence of ill-directed passions. Lo Alexander and Cesar, 
the fabled heroes of antiquity, to what lengths did passion, 
hurry them ? Ambition, with look sublime, bade them on, 
bade them grasp at universal dominion, and wade to empire 
through seas of blood ! But why need I confine myself to 
these ? Do not provinces, plundered and laid waste with fire 
and sword ; do not nations, massacred and slaughtered by 
the bloody hand of war; do not all these dreadful and as- 
tonishing revolutions, recorded in the pages of history, show 
the fatal effects of lawless passions ? 
, " If the happiness of others could not, yet surely our own 
\ happiness should induce us to keep our passions widiin the 
bounds of reason ; for the passions, when unduly elevated, 
destroy the health, impair the mental faculties, sour the dis>- 


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position, imbitter life, and make us equally disagreeable to 
others and uneasy to ourselves. Is it not, then, of moment, 
that our passions be duly balanced, their sallies confined 
within proper limits, and in no case sufiered to trans- 
gress the bounds of reason ? Will any one deny the im- 
portance of regulating the passions, when he considers how 
powerful they are, and that his own happiness, and perhaps 
the happiness of thousands, depends upon it ? The regula- 
tion of the passions is a matter of moment, and therefore we 
should be careful to fix them upon right objects, to confine 
them within proper bounds, and never permit them to exceed 
the limits assigned by nature. It is the part of reason to 
sooth the passions, and to keep the soul in a pleasing se- 
renity and calm : if reason rules, all is quiet, composed, and 
benign : if reason rules, all the passions, like a musical con- 
cert, are in unison. In short, our passions, when moderate, 
are accompanied with a sense of fitness and rectitude ; but, 
when excessive, inflame the mind, and hurry us on to action 
without due distinction of objects. 

'' Among uncivilized nations, the passions do, in general, 
exceed aQ rational bounds. Needweaprooifof this? Let us 
cast our eyes on the different lavage tribes in the world, and 
we shall be immediately convinced that the passions rule 
without control. Happy it is, that in polished society, the 
passions, by early discipline, are so moderated as to be 
made subservient to the most important services. In this 
respect, seminaries of learning are of the utmost advantage,, 
and attended wiA the most happy effects- Moreover, the 
passions are attended with correspondent commotions in ani- 
mal nature, and, therefore, the real temper will, of course, be 
discovered by the countenance, the gesture, and the voice* 
Here I might run into a pleasing enumeration of many in-^ 
stances of this ; but, fearing that I have ahready trespassed! 
upon your patience, shall desist. Permit me, however un- 
usual, to close with a wisbv May none of those unruly 
passions ever captivate any of my audience.!* 

Vol. L— E a* 


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34 VBMoiRa OF AARON BURRr [Aged 15. 

An Attempt to search the Origin of Idolatry. 

•* It is altogether impossible to fix exactly the period whea 
idolatry took its rise. Adam, coming immediately from the^ 
bands of God, had experienced too many mamfestations of 
bis power and goodness to be unacquainted with him, and 
must have preserved the purest idea of him in his own fam- 
ily, which, most probably, continued in the branch of Seth 
till the deluge. The posterity of Cain, on the contrary (the 
pure idea of God gradually wearing away, and by loose 
men being connected with sense), fell into idolatry, and 
every other crime, which^ brought on the deluge ; a period 
about which Moses has said but little, and from what he has^ 
said we can draw no just conclusion with respect to the 
idolatry of those times, 

'^ A certain author, being persuaded that idolatry did nol 
take its rise till after the deluge, giyes a very singular ac-» 
count of its origin. According to him, atheism had spread 
itoelf over the world. Thi« disposition of mind, says her 
is the capital crime. Atheists are much more odious te 
the Divinity than idolaters. Besides, thia principle is much 
more capable of leading men into that excessive corruptioa 
the world fell into before the deluge. The knowledge of a 
God, of whatever nature he is conceived, and the worship of 
a Deity, are apt, of themselves, to be a restraint upon men^ 
So that iddatry was of some use to bear down the corruptioft 
of the world. It is therefore probable, that the horrid vicea 
men were fallen into before the deluge, proceeded only fronct. 
their not knowing nor serving a God. I am even of opin- 
ion (continues he) that the idolatry and polytheism after the 
deluge derived their origm from the atheism and impiety 
that reigned before it. Such is the temper of men, when 
ihey have been severely punished for smy crime, they run 
into the opposite extreme. I conjecture (concludes the same 
author) this was the case vrith men s^ter the deluge. As* 
Uiey reckoned that this terrible judgment, which carried 
such mdications of Divine vn:ath» was sent Ibr the punish^ 


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ment of atheism, they ran into the opposite extreme. They 
ad<»:ed whatever seemed to deserve their worsI^p. 

^' It is true, indeed, that idolatry is capable of furnishing a 
curb against irregularity of manners; but this author has 
conjectured, without foundation, that atheism reigned uni- 
versally before the deluge. He ought, at least, to have ex- 
cepted the posterity of Seth. 

" However idolatry might have reigned before the deluge, 
it is certain that the knowledge and worship of the true God 
were again united in the family of Noah ; and as long as the 
children and grandchildren of that patriarch made but one 
family, in all probabiUty, the worship of the true God waft 
little altered in its purity. Noah being at the head of the 
people, and Shem, Ham, and Japheth witnesses of God's ven- 
geance on their contemporaries, is it probable that they, liv- 
ing in the midst of their famihes, would suffer them to depart 
from the truth ? We read of nothing that can incline us to 
this belief. Various have been the conjectures concerning 
the authors of idolatry. Some believe it was Serug, the 
grandfather of Terah, who first introduced idolatry after tlie 
deluge. Others maintain it was Nimrod, and that he in- 
stituted the worship of fire among his subjects, which con- 
tinues ev^i to this day in some places in Persia. Others 
assert that Ham was the author of it, and then his son Ca- 
naan ; and it is most probable that the unfortunate sons of 
an accursed father were the first who, following the propen- 
sity of their own heart, sought out sensible objects to which 
they might offer a superstitious worship. As the two sons 
of Ham, Canaan and Mizraim, settled, the one in Phoenicia,, 
and the other in Egypt, it is probable that these were the 
first nurseries of idolatry ; and the sim, being looked upon as. 
the purest image of the Creator, was the first object of it.. 
It is not probable that men would choose beings like them^ 
selves for the first objects of their adoration. Nothing could 
be more capable of seducing than the beauty and usefiilness 
of the sujQt dispensing Ught and fertility all around.. But, to. 


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conclude, we must not imagine that all idolatry sprang from 
the same country. It came by slow degrees, luid those who 
made the first advances towards this impie^, did by no 
means carry it to that extravagant height to which it after- 
wards arrived." 


In college, yoimg Burr formed intimacies which ripened 
into lasting friendship. The attachment between him and 
Colonel Matthias Ogden, of New-Jersey, was both ardent 
and mutual ; and, it is believed, continued during the life of 
the latter. Colonel Knapp says, " Samuel Spring, D. D,,. 
late of Newburyport, was in college with Colonel Burr, and 
part of their college life was his chum. The doctor was a 
student of mature age, and had a provisitorial power over Burr 
in his daily duties. He has often spoken of his young friend 
with more than ordinary feeling. He, in fact,, prophesied 
bis future genius, fi:om the early proofs he gave of intellect- 
ual power in the course of his college life.!* 

At Princeton, Burr enjoyed the counsel and advice of the 
late William Paterson, subsequently one of the judges of 
the Supreme Court of the United States, To be thus early 
i^ life honoured with the respect and esteem of such a man 
as Judge Paterson^ was highly flattering. Their correspond- 
ence commenced in 1772, ai^d continued until the decease 
of the judge. Extracts from his letters to Colonel Burr will 
be given occasionally. He says, in a lettejc dated 

"Princeton, JaBuavy 17th, 1772. 

** Dear Burr, 
" I am just ready to take horse, and therefore cannot have 
the pleasure of waiting on you in person. Be pleased ta 


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Aged 16.] HEMoiRS of aaron bvre. ^ 

accept of the enclosed notes on dancing. If you pitch 
upon it as the subject of your next discourse, they may, 
perhap8,*fumish you with a few hints, and enable you to 
compose with the greater faciUty and despatch. To do you 
any little services in my power will afford me great satis- 
faction, and I hope you will take the liberty (it is nothing 
mc^e, my dear Burr, than the freedom of a friend) to call 
upon me whenever you think I can. 

" When I shall be here again is uncertain — ^perhaps not 

before vacation. Forbear with me while I say that ycu 

cannot speak too slow. Your good judgment generally leads 

you to lay the emphasis on the most forcible word in the 

sentence ; so far you act very right. But the misfortune is» 

that you lay too great stress upon the emphatical word. 

Every word should be distinctly pronounced; one should 

not be so highly sounded as to drown another. To see you 

shin^e as a speaker would give great pleasure to your friends 

in general, and to me in particular. I say nothing of yoiu' 

own honoiu". The desire of making others happy will, to^ 

a generous mind, be the strongest incentive. I am much 

mistaken if such a desire has not great influence over you. 

You are certainly capable of making a good speaker. Exert 

yourself. I am in haste. 

" Dear Burr, adieu. 

"Wm. Patbrson.'^ 

Another letter, dated 

''Princeton, October 26th, 1772i 

" Dear Burr, 
" Our mutual friend, Stewart, with whom I spent part of 
the evening, informed me you were still in EUzabethtown^ 
You are much fonder of that place than I am, otherwise you 
would hardly be prevailed upon to make so long a stay.. 
But, perhaps, the reason that I fear it, makes you like it. i 
There is certainly something amorous in its very air. Nor / 
IB this a case any way extraordinary or beyond belief. Xl j 


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38 1I1K0IR8 07 AARON BURR. [Aged 16. 

haye read (and it was in point, too) that a flock of birds, be- 
ing on the wing, and bending their flight towards a certain 
town in Connecticut, dropped down dead just as tJiey were 
pver it. The people Were at first fairly at a loss to account 
for this phenomenon in any natural way. However, it was 
at length agreed on all hands that it was owing to the noi* 
someness of the atmosphere, the smallpox at that time be- 
ing very rife in the place. I should never have given credit 
to the report, had it not come from so good a quarter as that 
of New-England. For my part, I always drive through 
EUzabethtown as quickly as possible, lest the soft infection 

; should steal upon me, or I should take it in with the very 

I air I breathe. 

*' Yesterday I went to hear Mr, Halsey, and there, too, I 
saw his young and blooming wife. The old gentleman 
seems very fond of his rib, and, in good sooth, leers very 
wistfriUy at her as she trips along by his side. Some al- 
lowance, however, must be made ; he is in the vale of life ; 
love is a new thing to him, and the honey-moon is not yet 

' They are tmoroQs, and fond, and billing. 
Like Philip and Mary on a shilling.* 

I have promised to pay him a visit ; Stewart, or some of the 
tutors, I believe, will accompany me, and I hope you will 

" Since commencement I havcbeen at a Dutch wedding, 
and expect to be at one or two more very shortly. There 
was drinking, and singing, and fiddling, and dancing. I was 
pleased extremely. Every one seemed to be in good-hu- 
mour vdth himself, and this naturally led them all to be in 
good-humour with one another. 

" When the itch of scribbling seizes me, I hardly know 
when to stc^.. The fit, indeed, seldom comes upcm me; 
but when it does, though I sit down with a design to be 
short, yet my letter insensibly shdes into length, and swells 
perhaps into an enormous size.. I know not how it hap- 


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pens, but on such occasions I have a knack of throwing nay* 
self out on paper that I cannot readily get the better of. It 
is a sign,?however, that I more than barely esteem the per- 
son I write to, as I have constantly experienced that my 
hand but illy performs its office unless my heart concurs. I 
confess I cannot conceive how I got into so scribbling a vein 
at present. It is now past eleven o'clock at night, and be- 
fiidea being on horse the greater part of the day, I intend 
to start early to-morrow for Philadelphia. There I shall 
see the races, and the play, and, what is of more value fax 

than all, there, too, I shall see Miss , you know who. 

** The enclosed letter to Spring I commit to your care. I 
should have sent it before, as I wrote it immediately after 
you left this place, but I really thought you were in New- 
England long ere now. I know not his address ; perhaps 
he is at Newport, perhaps he is not. If, on inquiry, you 
find that the letter is virrongly directed, pray give it an en-* 
relope, and superscribe it anew. If he is stiU at Newport,^ 
it would, perhaps, more readily reach him from New- York 
than from any part of NewrEngland that you may be at. I 
have said that if I am mistaken in directing the within let- 
ter, you should cover it and give it the proper address. Do,, 
dear Burr, get somebody who can write at least a passable 
hand to back it, for you give your letters such a sharp, slen- 
der, and lady-like cast, that almost every one, on seeing 
them, would conclude diere was a correspondence kept up 
between my honest friend Spring and some of the female 
tribe, which might, perhaps, affect him extremely in point 
of reputation, as many people suppose that nothing of diis 
kind can be carried on between unmarried persons of the 
two sexes without being tinged with love; and the rather 
80, since the no^;i of Platonic love is, at the present day, 
pretty generally, and I believe justly too, exploded. Pla- 
tonic love is arrant nonsense, and rarely, H aver, takes place 
until the parties have at least passed their grand climacteric 
Besides^ the New-England people^^ I am told, are odd^ ia<* 


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40 KllIOIRS OF AARON BITRil. [A^ed 16. 

quisitive kind of beings, and, when pricked on by foolish 
curiosity, may perhaps open the letter, which I do not 
choose should be common to every eye. 

" You gave me some hopes that you would see my good 
£dend Reeve before you returned. If you do, make him my 
respectful compliments, and tell him that I fully designed to 
write him, but that business prevented, that laziness hinder- 
ed, that — ^in short, tell him any thing, so it does not impeach 
my affection, or lead him to think I have entirely forgotten 
him. I am, 

" Dear Burr yours sincerely, 

" Wm» Paterson.** 

In a letter to Dr. Spring, dated October 6, 1T72, speaking 
of the commencement. Judge Paterson says i — " The young 
gentlemen went through their exercises in a manner passa^ 
ble enough. The speakers were all tolerable — ^none of them 
very bad nor very good. Our young friend Burr made a 
graceful appearance ; he was excelled by none, except per- 
haps by Bradford. Linn, too, was pretty generally appro- 
ved ; but, for my part, I could not forbear thinking that he 
took rant, and rage, and madness for true spirit — ^a very 
commdn mistake." 

For some months after Burr graduated (1T72), he remain- 
ed in college, reviewing his past studies^ and devolmg his 
time to general literature. Possessed of an ample income, 
having access to the college library, and continuing, from 
time to time, as his correspondence shows, to supply him- 
self vrith scientific and literary productions, his mind was 
/ \ greatly improved during this period. It is. true he continu- 

; cd to indulge in amusements and pleasures ; but, sleeping 
\ 1 little, seldom more than six hours, he found ample time for 

^ r :^ j study. 

\v^ 1 In the college there was a literary club, consisting of the 

graduates and professors, and still known as Tlie Clio-So- 
phic Society, Dr. Samuel S. Smith, subsequently presi-^ 


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Aged 16.] MBMpIRS OF AARON BURR. 41 

ctent of the college, was then (1T73) a professor. With 
him young Burr was no favourite, and their dislike was mu- 
tual. The attendance of the professors was expected to be 
regular. The members of the society in rotation presided 
over its deliberations. On a particular occasion it was the 
duty of young Burr to take the chair. At the hour of 
meeting he took his seat as president. Dr. Smith had not 
then arrived ; but, shortly after the business commenced, he 
entered. Burr, leaning on one arm of the chair (for, al- 
though now sixteen years of age, he was too small to reach 
both arms at the same time), began lecturing Professor 
Smith for his non-attendance at an earher hour^ remarking 
that a different example to younger members was expected 
from him, and expressing a hope that it might not again be 
necessaiy to recur to the subject. Having finished his lec- 
ture, to the great amusement of the society, he requested 
the professor to resume his seat. The incident, as may 
well be imagined, long served as a college joke. 


„ New-Hayen, March, 1772. 

Dear Aaron, 

By a poor candle, with poor eyes and a pporer brain, I sit 
down to introduce a long wished-for correspondence. You 
see how solicitous I am to preserve old connexions; or, 
rather, to begin new ones. Relationship, by the fashionable 
notions of those large tovnas, which usurp a right to lead and 
govern our opinions, is dwindled to a formal nothing — a mere 
shell of ceremony. Our ancestors, whose honesty and sim- 
pHcity (though different firom the wise refinements of mod- 
em politeness) were perhaps as deserving of imitation as 
the insincere coldness of the present generation, cousirCd it 
to the tenth degree of kindred. Though this was extending 
the matter to a pitch of extravagance, yet it was certainly 
founded upon a natural, rational principle. Who are so 
naturally our friends as those who are bom such ? I defy a 

Vol. I.— F 


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42 1IBK0IE8 OF AARON BVKR. [Aged 16. 

New-Y<»ker, though callous'd over with city politeness, 4d 
be otherwise than pleased with a Tiew of ancient hospitality 
to relations, when exercised by a person of good-breeding 
and a genteel education. 

Now, say you, what has this to do with the introduction 
of a correspondence ? You shall know directly, sir. The 
Edwardses have been always remarkabb for this fondness 
for th^ir relations. If you have the least inclination to proye 
yourself a tnie descendant of that respectable stock, you 
cannot fail of answering me very soon. This (were I dis- 
posed) I could demonstrate by algebra and syllogisms in a 
twinkling ; but hope you will beUeve me without either. I 
never asked for many connexions in this way ; and was never 
neglected but once, and that by a Jersey gentleman, to whom 
I wrote and received no answer. I hope the. disease is not 
epdemical, and that you have not determined against any 
communication with the rest of the world. It was a morti- 
fication, I confess ; for I am too proud to be denied a request, 
thou^ unreasonable, as many of mine are — ^therefore, I in- 
sist upon an answer, at least, and as many more as you can 
find in your heart to give me ; promising, in return, as many 
by tale, though without a large profit. I shall not warrant 
their quality. 

Your sincere friend, 

Timothy Dwight, Jvmu 


Newport, May ISfch, 1773. 

Dear Burr, 
It is a little strange to me that I have not heard any thing 
of you since your examination. I don't know but you are 
dissatisfied, since you are so backward to write ; however, 
I will, if possible, keep such thoughts out of my mind till I 
hear from you in particular. If you are let down a peg 
lower, you may tell me of it. If you are permitted to live 
in college, you may tell me of it ; and if you are turned out» 


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Aged 16.] 11SM0IE8 OF kAROV BVJtt. 4^ 

you may tell me of it If you passed ezaminatum, and have 
a syllogiuB to speak at commencement, if you are dbie to 
make it, I suppose you may tell n^ of that likewise ; or, if 
you are first in the class, you may tell me, if you will only 
do it softly ; indeed, you may tell me any thing, for I pro- 
fess to be your friend. Therefore, since you can trust me 
so far, I expect you will now write, and let me know a little 
how matters are at present in college. In particular, let me 
know the state of the society (Gliosophic) ; and if I owe any 
thing to it, do you pay it, and charge it to your humble «er- 

I hope you will write the first opportunity, as I trust you 
have got some very good news to tell me concerning the 
college in general, and yourself in particular* I have nothing 
particular to write. It is yery pleasant to me where I am 
at present. 

The study of divinity is agreeable ; — ^far more so than any 
other study whatever would be to me. I hope to see the 
time when you will feel it to be your duty to go into the 
same study with a desire for the ministry. Remember, that 
was the prayer of your dear father and mother, and is the 
prayer of your friends to this time — ^that you should step 
forth into his place, and make it manifest that you are a 
friend to Heaven, and that you have a taste for its glory. 
But this, you are sensible, can never be the case if you re- 
main in a state of nature. Therefore, improve the present 
and future moments to the best of purposes, as knowing 
the time will soon be upon you when you will wish that in 
living you had lived right, and acted rationally, and like an 

Your friend, 

Samuel Spring. 

In 1806-7 great excitement was produced, in consequence 
of Colonel Burr writing in cipher to General Wilkinson. In 
this particular he seems to have had peculiar notions. How- 


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^%Jt^ ^n^*> ' Qiy^^-^. 4 IC ^AaaX^ 



[Aged 16. 





ever innocent bis correspondence, he was, apparently, desi- 
rous at all times of casting around it a veil of mystery. The 
same trait was conspicuous in his political movements and 
intercourse. This has been one of the weak points in Colonel 
Burr's character. He was considered a mysterious man ; 
and what was not imderstood by the vulgar, was pronounced 
selfish or ambitious intrigue. Even his best friends were 
often dissatisfied with him on this account. Acting upon 
this principle of mystery at every period of his life, he has 
corresponded with one or more individuals in cipher. While 
yet a student in college, tlie letters between his sister and 
himself are firequently written in cipher. So, also, much 
of his correspondence with his most intimate friend, Mat- 
thias Ogden, and with others in 1774 and 1775, is in cipher. 
Many of these letters, thus written, are now in existence. 
To those, therefore, acquainted with the character and pe- 
culiarities of Colonel Burr, the fact of his writing a letter in 
cipher would not be considered as any thing extraordinary ; 
because it was H habit which he had adopted and pursued 
for more than thirty years preceding the period when this 
excitement was thus produced. 

Before Burr left Princeton, and while be was indulging 
himself in pleasures and amusements, he accidentally visited 
a billiard-table. He engaged in play, and, although he had 
never before seen the game, he was successful, and won 
about half a Joe. On returning home with his gains, he re- 
flected on the incident with great mortification, and deter- 
mined never again to play ; which determination he adhered 
to through life. Colonel Burr not only abstained from 
playing at billiards, but with equal pertinacity he refused to 
play at any game for the purpose of acquiring money. 

Although he had been somewhat tranquillized by his con- 
versation with Dr. Witherspoon on the subject of the awa- 
kening in college in 1772, yet he was not entirely at ease. 
In consequence of which he came to a resolution not to enter 
upon the concerns of life until this point was more satisr 


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A^ed 17.] VBMOiRS of aarok BtrRB. 46 

factorily settled in his own mind. He concluded, therefore^ 
to visit and consult the Rev. Joseph Bellamy, a venerable 
and devoted friend of his late father, and to whom he was 
known by reputaticm. 

Joseph Bellamy, D. D., was an eminent preacher and theo- 
logical writer of Connecticut, and intimate friend of Colonel 
Burr's relative, the famous Jonathan Edwards, virith whose 
particular opinion he fully agreed. He was celebrated in 
his days, before the establishment of theological seminaries, 
as an instructer of yoimg men preparing for the ministry. 
The late Governor Wolcott used to speak of him with the 
highest respect for his talent and moderation. He died in 

In the autumn of 1773, Burr visited him at Bethlehem, in 
Connecticut, and was received by his aged friend in a most . 
kind and affectionate nianner. His advice, and the use of I 
his Ubrary, were promptly tendered. Burr commenced a ' 
course of reading on reUgious topics, and was thus occupied 'i^-i-^^r 
from sixteen to eighteen hours a day. His habits were those f >^ 
of great abstinence, and a recluse. His conversations vnth 
the reverend divine were encouraged and indulged in with 
freedom, and his inquiries answered. Here he remained 
imtil the spring of 1774, when, to use his own language, he 
** came to the conclusion that the road to Heaven was open / 
to all aUke.** He, hovirever, from that time forward, avoided . 
most studiously all disputation on the subject of religion. ( 

An impression has been created that Colonel Burr was 
placed by his guardian under Dr. Bellamy, for the purpose 
of studying divinity. This is an error. His visit to the 
Rev. Dr. was not the result of a conference or communica-' 
tion vrith any person whatever ; but the voUtion of his own 
mind, and for the purpose already stated. In fact, after 
Burr entered college, his studies and his future pursuits in 
life iqppear to have been left entirely under his own control. 
Whether this arose from indolence on the part of his guar- 
dian, or from pertinacity in young Burr, is uncertain ; per- 



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M XBMoiiis OF AAmoN BtTRft. [Aged 18. 

bqpd a little of both, united with the great confidence which 
Mm unde reposed in his judgment and talents. 

In the spring of 1774, while he yet resided at Dr. Bella^ 
my's, he contemplated studying law; but was undecided 
"vriiether he should read with Pierpoat Edwards, or with I^s 
lnrother*in->law, Tappan Reere, and upon this subject he 
wrote his guardian, who replies, m a letter dated 

« Stockbridge, Febrnary llth, 1774. 

" Whether you study law with Mr. Reeve or your uncle 
Pierpont is a matter of indifference with me. I would have 
you act your pleasure therein. I shall write to your uncle 
upon it, but yet treat it as a matter of doubt. Your board I 
shall settle with Dr. Bellamy myself. I will send you cash 
to pay for your horse very soon. You may expect it in the 
forepart of March. If I had known of this want of yours 
sooner, I would have paid it before this. 

" Your affectionate uncle, 

*• Timothy Edwards.** 


In May, 1774, he left the Rev. Mr. Bellamy*s, and went 

to the house <rf his brother-in-law, Tappan Reeve, where 

his time was occupied in reading, principally history ; but 

/ ^.'^ especially those portions of it which related to wars, and 

battles, and sieges, which tended to inflame his natural mili- 

\ ^ 1 ^^ ardour. The absorbing topics of taacation and the righta 

/ of the people were agitating the then British colonies from 

one extreme to the other. These subjects, therefore, could 

not pass unnoticed by a youth of the inquiring mind and 

ardent feelings of Burr. Constituticmal law, and the rela?- 

tive rights of the crown tod the colonists, were examined 


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Aged 18.] mMoiKs or aaroh ^vbb. 47 

with aU the ftGomen whkb he possessed, and he became t 
wMg from reflection and conriction, aa well as from feeling. 
At this period, Burr's most intimate and confidential cos^ 
respondent was Matthias Ogden, of New-Jersey, subse»- 
qnently Colonel Ogden, a gallant and distinguished leTola*^ 
tionary officer. He writes to Bizrz, dated 

oSMEabethtowD, Aagnst Mh» 1774. 

" Dear Aaron, 

" I receired yomrs by Mr. Beach, dated Sunday. I am 
not a little pleased that yoa have the doctor (Bellamy) so 
completely wider your thumb. Last Saturday I went a 
crabbing. Being in want of a thole-pin, I substituted a large 
jackknife in its stead, with tb^ Made open and sticking up. 
It answered the purpose of rowkig very well ; but it seems 
^t was not the oniy purpose it bad to answer ^ for,^ aftet 
we had been some time on the flats, running en the mud^ as 
the devil would have it, in getting into the boat I tfai«w my 
leg directly across the edge of the knife, which left a decent 
maj^ of nearly four inches long, and more than one inch 
deep. It was then up anchor and away. Our first port was 
Dayton's ferry, where Dr. Bennet happened to be^ but with- 
out his apparatus for sewing, to the no small disadvantage 
of me, who was to undergo the operation* Mrs. Dayton, 
however, furnished him with a large damif^needle, which, 
as soon as I felt going through my skin, I thought was naore 
like a gimlet boring into me ; but, with the hdp of a glas9 
of wine, I grinned and bore it, until he took a few stitches w 
the wound. So much for cmbbing. 

^^I was at New-York about a fortnight since, on my way 
to Jamaica, Long Idand* The object of this journey you 
understand. I stayed at Mr. Willett's three days, and ^n 
went to Colonel Morris's, and spent two days there very 
agreeably. Nothing occurred worth relating,^ unless it be 
some transactions of the greatest fool I ever knew. 

" Mr. EUiot, cdleelor of New-York, Mr. and Mrs. De- 


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48 UBK0IR8 OF AARON BURR. [Aged 18. 

lancey and daughter, dined there on Sunday. Wither- 
spoon^ was led in with a large bag tied to his hair, that 
reached down to the waistband of his breeches, and a brass 
locket hanging from his neck below his stomach. He was 
■ turned round and round by each of the company : was asked 
where he got that very neat bag, and the valuable locket ? 
He readily answered, they were a present from Lady Kitty, 
who was violently in love with him, and he expected to 
marry her in a short time. He is so credulous that any 
child might impose on him. I told him that I came from 
Lord Stirling's, luid that he might write by me to Lady Kitty. 
Accordingly, he wrote a long letter and gave me, which I 
opened there, and, by desire of Colonel Morris, answered it, 
when I got to New-York, in Lady Kitty's name, informing 
hun that he must tell Mr. Morris to provide himself with 
another tutor, as she intended marrying him without fail the 
first of September, which I suppose he will as sincerely be* 
lieve as he does his existence. 

"Yours affectionately, 

" Matt. Oodbn^** 

^0 matthias oodbn. 

Litchfield, Angut ITtk, ITT^ 

Dbar Matt., 
Before I proceed any further, let me tell yoathat, a few 
days ago, a mob of several hundred persons gathered at 
Barrington, and tore down the house of a man who was 
suspected of being unfriendly to the liberties of the people ; 
broke up the court, then sitting at that place, &c. As 
msuiy of the rioters belonged to this colony, and the Supe- 
rior Court was then sitting at this place, the sheriff was 
inmiediately despatched to apprehend the ringleaders. He 
returned yesterday with eight prisoners, who were t^ken 
without resistance. But this minute there is entering the 

* A rdatiTe of PraudfiDt With«rq>ooD. 


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Aged 18.] XBM0IB8 OP aaeok bukr. 49 

town on horseback, with great regularity, about fifty men, 
armed each with a white club ; and I observe others con- 
tinually dropping in. I shall here leave a blank, to give 
you (perhaps in heroics) a few sketches of my unexampled 
valour, should they proceed to hostilities ; and, should they 
not, I can then tell you what I would have done. 

The abovementioned 5neaA:5 all gave bonds for their ap- 
pearancey to stand a trial at the next court for committing a 

Yours affectionately, 

A. Burr. 

On the 11th of September, 1774, he again writes Og- 
den : — 

I wrote you last Thursday, and enclosed one of the 
songs you desired, wjiich was all I could then obtain. Miss 

, thie fountain of melody, furnished me with it. I 

knew that she, and no one else, had the notes of the en- 
closed song. I told her I should be glad to copy them foy 
a most accomplished young gentleman in the Jerseys. She 
engaged to bring them the first time she came in town^ for 
she lives about two miles from here. I this day received it, 
precisely as you have it. You may depend upon its being 
the work of her own hands. If this don't deserve an acros*- 
tic, I don't know — sense, beauty, modesty, and music. Mat- 
ter plenty. 

Pi*ay tell me whether your prayers are heard, and a 
good old saint, though a little in your way, is yet in Heav- 
en. But remember, Matt., you can never be without plague, 
and when one gets out of the way, a worse, very often, 
suppUes its place ; so, I tell you again, be content, and 
hope for better times. 

I am determined never to have any dealings with your 
friend Cupid until I know certainly how matters will turn 
out with you : for should some lucky devil step in between 
my friend and , which kind Heaven grant may never 

Vol. I.— G 3 



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be ; in such a case, I say, I would choose to be untied, and 
then, you know, the wide world is before us. 

Yours sincerely," 

A. Burr. 

Butr again writes him, dated 

Litchfield, February 2d, 1775. 

I sent you a packet by N. Hazard, and from that time to 
this I have not had the most distant prospect of conveying 
a letter to you. However, I have written a number of 
scrawls, the substance of which you shall now have. 

The times with me are pretty much as usual ; not so 
full of actiqn as I could wish ; and I find this propensity to 
action is very apt to lead me into scrapes. T. B. has been 
here since I wrote you last ; he came very unexpectedly. 

You will conclude we had some confab about Miss . 

We had but Uttle private chat, and the whole of that little 
was about her. He would now and then insinuate slyly 
what a clever circumstance it would be to have such a wife, 
with her fortune. 

T. Burr,* by his kindness to me, has certainly laid me 
under obligations, which it would be the height of ingrati- 
tude in me ever to forget ; but I cannot conceive it my 
duty to be in the least influenced by these in the present 
case. Were I to conform to his inclination, it could give 
him pleasure or pain only as the consequence was good or 
bad to me. The sequel might be such as would inevitably 
cause him the most bitter anguish ; and, in all probability, 
would be such if I should consult his fancy instead of my 
judgment. And who can be a judge of these consequences 
but myself? Bat even supposing things could be so situa- 
ted that, by gratifying him, I should certainly be the means 
of his enjoying some permanent satisfaction, and should 
subject myself to a bare probability of misery as permanent, 

* Uncle to Colonel Aaron Burr. 


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Aged 19.] . MEMOIRS OF AARON BXHEtR. 51 

would it not stagger the most generous soul to think of 
sacrificing a whole hfe's comfort to the caprice of a friend ^ 
But this is a case that can never happen, unless that friend 
has some mean and selfish motive, such as I know T. Burr 
has not. I can never believe that too great deference to 
the judgment of another, in these matters, can arise from 
any greatness of soul. It appears to me the genume off- 
spring of meanness. I suppose you are impatient for my 
reply to these importunities. I found my tongue and fancy 
too cramped to say much. However,^ I rallied my thoughts^ 
and set forth, as well as I was able, the inconveniences and 
imcertainty attending such an affair. I am determined to 
be very blunt the next time the matter is urged. 

I have now and then an affair of petty gallantry, which j 
might entertain you if you were acquainted with the different \ t 
characters I have to deal with ; but, without that, they would j " 
be very insipid. I 

I have lately engaged in a correspondence of a peculiar 
nature. I vmte once, and sometimes twice a week, to a j 
lady who knows not Aat she ever received a line from me. 
The letters, on both sides, are mostly sentimental. Those \ 
of the lady are doubtless written with more sincerity, and 
less reserve, than if she knew I had any concern with them« 

Mr. received a letter from Miss . He is very | ' 

little versed in letter-writing, and engaged, or rather permit- '^ 
ted, me to answer it, not thinking thereby to embark in a 
regular correspondence, but supposing the matter would thus 
end. I have had many scruples of conscience about this 
affair, though I really entered into it not with any sinister 

view, but purely to oblige . I should be glad to know j 

your opinion of it. You will readily observe the advantage 

I have over . He is of an unsttepicious make, and 

this gives me an opportunity (if I had any inclination) 
to insert things which might draw from her secrets she 
would choose I should be ignorant of. But I would suffer 
crucifixion rather than be guilty of such an unparalleled 


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meanness. On the contrary, I have carefully aToided say- 
ing any thing which might have the least tendency to make 
her write what she would be unwilling I should see. 


A. Burr. 

On the 12th of March, 1775, Burr writes Ogden : — 

I have received your and Aaron's* letters. I was a little 
disappointed that you did not send an acrostic ; but I still 
entertain some secret hope that the muse (who, you say, 
has taken her flight) will shortly return, and, by a new €aid 
stricter intimacy, more than repay the pains of this moment- 
ary absence. 

Your happiness. Matt., is really almost the only present 
thing I can contemplate with any satisfaction; though I, 
like other fools, view futurity with partiality enough to 
-^Vj* I make it very desirable ; but I must first throw reason aside, 
and leave fancy uncontrolled. In some of these happy 
freaks I have endeavoured to take as agreeable a slei^- 
ride as you had to Goshen ; but I find it impracticable, un- 
less you will makie one of the party ; for my imagination, 
when most romantic, is not lively or delusive enough to 
paint an object that can, in my eyes, atone for your absence. 
From this you will conclude that the news you heard of 
me at Princeton is gromidless. It is so far firom being 
true, that scarce two persons can fix on the same lady to 
tease me with. However, I would not have you think that 
this diversity of opinion arises from the volatility of my 
constitution, or that I am in love with every new or pretty 
face I see. But, I hope, you know me too well to need a 
caution of this nattire. 

I am very glad t(f hear of 's downfall. But, with all 

that fellow's low-Uved actions, I don't more sincerely de- 
spise him than I do certain other narrow-hearted scoun- 

* Subcnqo^itly Governor Ogden, of New-Jersey, and l»otlier of Msttluaf. 




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drela you have among you. Mean as he is, he appears to 
me to have (or rather to have had) more of something at 
bottcHn that bordered on honour, than some who will pass 
through Ufe respected by many. I say this, not so much 

to raise him above the conmion standard of d ^Is, as to 

sink them below it. My idea of a d-: — ^1 is composed more 
<^ malice than of meanness. 

Since I commenced this letter I have passed through a 
scene entirely new. Now, as novelty is the chief and al- j T"^ 
most only ingredient of happiness here below, you'll fancy j 
1 have had some lucky turn. I think it quite the reverse, I 
assure you. I have serious thoughts of leaving the matter 
here, that you may be on the rack of curiosity for a month 
or so. Would not this be truly satanic ? Whii would be 
your conjectures in such a case ? The first, I guess^ that I 
was sadly in love, and had met with some mortifying rebuff. 

What would you say if I should tell you that had 

absolutely professed love for me ? Now I can see you vrith 
both hands up — eyes and mouth wide open ; but don't be 
over scrupulous. Trust me, I tell you the whole truth. I 
cannot at.present give you any further particulars about 4he 
matter, than that I felt foolish enough, and gave as cautious 
a turn to it as I could, for which I am destined to suffer her 
future hostility. 

Last week I received a letter from T. Edwards, which I 
fear may prove fatal to the dear project of the 15th of April. 
He intends to be here about the middle of that month. Sup-^ 
posing he should come here the 13th of April, what could I, 
do ? Run off and leave him ? Observe the uncertainty of 
all sublunary things. I, who a few months ago was as un* 
controlled in my motions as the lawless meteors, am now 
(sad reverse !) at the beck of a person forty miles off. But 
all this lamentation, if well considered, is entirely groundless, 
for {between yowand me) I intend to see you at Elizabethtown 
this spring. But even supposing I should fail in this — 
where is this sad reverse of fortune? — ^this lamentable 


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change ? Is it not a very easy matter to fix on another 
time, and write you word by T. Edwards ? 

I have struck up a correspondence with J. Bellamy (son 
to the famous divine of that name). He has very lately set^ 
tied in the practice of the law at Norwich, a place about sev- 
enty miles S. E. of this. He is one of the cleverest fellows 
I have to deal with. Sensible, a person of real humour, and 
is an excellent judge of mankind, though he has not had op- 
portunity of seeing much of the world. » Adieu. 

A.. BURB.. 


Norwich, March 14th, 1775. 

To do justice to circumstances, which you know are of 
the greatest importance in order to form a mie estimate of 
what a person either says or does, it is indispensably neces- 
sary for me to tell you that it not only rains Tery generously, 
but that it is as dark as it was befc»re light was created. 1% 
would be ridiculous to suppose that you need information 
that nothing but the irresistible desire of vmting could pos- 
sibly keep me at home this evening. , < 

I had received your February favour only just time to 
laugh at it once, when the melancholy news that Betsy De- 
votion, of Windham, was very dangerously sick, banished 
every joyous thought from my heart. This Betsy you may 
remember to have heard mentioned near the name of Natty 
Huntington, who died last December ; and a very angel she 
was too, I assure you. You see I speak of her in the past 
sense, for she has left us; and her friends are sure she is 
not less an angel now than she was ten days ago. Very 
certain I am, that if a natural sweetness of disposition can 
scale Heaven's walls, she went over like a bird. But I be- 
lieve we must leave her and all the rest of our departed 
friends to be sentenced by a higher Board. 

** Transports last not in the human heart ; 
But all with transports soon agree to part." 


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Aged 19.] MEMOIRS OK AARON BURR. . 59 

If nature, in spite of us, did not take care of herself, we 
could not but be perfectly wretched. Philosophy is the 
emptiest word in the dictionary. And you may observe, 
wherever you find them, that those persons who profess to 
place all their reliance upon it, under every affecting circum- 
stance of life, do but make use of the term as a mask for 
an iron heart. " But" (as the devil said on another occa- 
sion) ^' put forth thine hand, and touch his bone, and his 
flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face." They have as 
little fortitude es anybody whea sufferings pinch home upon 

Thus have I relieved a heart that perhaps felt a little 
too full ; and if it is at the expense of my head, I have nev- 
ertheless the consolation that it will be received only as the 
overflowings of my present feelings. 

" When and ^here shall I see you again ?" somebody 
mice asked me. The Lord only knows. Perhaps at the 
election at Hartford. If we can meet there — ^there will ba 
time for notice. But, happen as it may, be assured that I 
am your most sincere friend, 

Jonathan Bellamy. 

^* Stick my compliments in for him," says Hannah Phelps^ 
a jolly girl of fourteen. 

from matthus ogdin. 

Elizabethtown, March 18th, 1775. 

Since we last saw each other, the 15th of April has been 
my mark, but the receipt of yours of the 12th has blotted it 
from my memory, fot which nothing could atone but the ex- 
pectation of seeing you here nearly as soon. 

I read with pleasure your love intrigues ; your anony- 
mous correspondence with Miss , &c., and, with as 

much seriousness, the part relative to , Thaddeus Burr's 

overtures, &c. 

Steadily, Aaron. Money is alluring, and there is a pleas- 
ure in gratifying a friend; but let not a fortune buy your 


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M MBM0IR8 OF AAROK B0RR. [Aged 19. 

peace, nor sell your happiness. Neither be too much biased 
by a friend, or any one's advice, in a matter of so great conse- 
quence to yourself. Perhaps she is worthy your love, and, if 
I could think she was, I would not say a single thing to dis* 
courage you. Be cautious, A^on ; weigh the matter well. 
Should your generous heart be sold for* naught, it would 
greatly hurt the peace of mine. Let not her sense, her edu- 
cation, her modesty, her graceful actions, or her wit, betray 
you. Has she a soul framed for love ? For friendship ? 
But why need I advise a person of better judgment than 
myself? It is not advice, my friend; it is only caution. 
You have a difficult part to act. If you reject, she curses : 
if you pity, she takes it for encouragement. Matters with 
me go on smoothly. 

I am now making up a party to go to the Falls, to be 
ready against you come. My best regards to Mr. and Mrs. 

Reeve. I remain happy in the enjoyment of ^'s love, and 

am, Your unfeigned friend, 

Matt. Ogdbn. 

After the decease of President Burr, Lyman Hall waa 
intrusted by the executors with the collection of sundry 
debts due to the estate. A removal, and his various avoca-^ 
tions, prevented his performing that duty with the necessary 
promptitude. In consequence, the heirs were exposed to 
loss. A friend of the family, the Rev. James Caldwell, of 
New-Jersey, wrote him on the subject, and his answer is 
90 honourable, that it is deemed only an act of justice to an 
upright man to record it here. It is another instance of the 
integrity in private life of those patriots that planned and ac- 
complished the American Revolution. It will be seen that 
Mr. Hall was a member of the Congress of 1775 from tho 
State of Georgia. 


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Philadelphia, 17th May, 1775. 

Rev. Sir, 

Since I saw you, and afterwards Mr. Ogden, in Georgia, 
I have written to my attorneys and correspondents in Con- 
necticut, to give me all the information they could obtain 
respecting the affairs and concerns of the late President 
Burr, left in my hands ; which I had delivered over, before 
I left that colony in 1759, into the hands of Thaddeus Burr» 
of Fairfield ; but no satisfactory answer can as yet be ob- 
tained. One debt, indeed, has been discovered, of about forty 
pounds New- York currency ; but the bond on which it is 
due is as yet concealed. 

On the whole, I find that it is not in my power to rede- 
liver those securities for moneys which I was once in pos- 
session of ; nor have I received the moneys due on those 
which were good; but am determined that I will make just 
satisfaction to the claimant heirs (orphans) of the late Presi-^ 
dent Burr. It is, I know, my indispensable duty, and I havo^ 
for that purpose brought a quantity of rice to this city, the 
avails of which, when sold, shall be appropriated to thatuse» 
I diould be glad that you, or Mr. Ogden, the executor, could 
be here to transact the business, said, on a settlement, give 
me a power of attorney, properly authenticated, to recover 
any part of those moneys I can find due when I shall arrive 
in Connecticut, to which I propose going as soon as the 
Congress rises. As I am in Congress, I cannot see you di^ 
rectly ; but, if liberty can be obtained, shall wait on you or 
Mr. Ogden, or both, in my way to New- York, in a few 
days ; but I think Mr. Ogden, the executor, if it will suit,, 
had better come here and settle it. I mention him because^ 
I suppose he is the proper person to discharge me, and give 
me a power of attorney. 

I am, reverend sir. 

With esteem, yours, 

Lyman Halu 

The Rev. Jas. Caldwell, Elizabeihtown^ 

Vol. L— H a* 


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58 MBHoiKs or AABON BVKK. [Aged 19. 


In his retirement at the house of his brother-in-law (Judge 
Reeve), Burr was aroused by the shedding of his country- 
men^ blood Bt Lexington on the 19th of April, 1775. Im- 
mediately after that battle, he wrote a letter to his friend' 
Ogden, requesting him to come on to Litchfield and arrange 
for joining the standard of their country. Ogden wrote for 
answer that he could not make the necessary arrangements. 
The battle of Bunker's Hill (on the 16th of June, 1776> 
followed in rapid succession ; whereupon he started for 
Elizabethtown, New- Jersey, to meet Ogden, and aid him in 
preparations for the journey to Cambridge, where the Amer-^ 
ican army was encamped. 

Burr had been reading those portions of history which- 
detailed the achievements of the greatest military men and 
tacticians of the age in which they lived. His idea of dis- 
dpline and subordination was formed accordingly. With, 
the most enthusiastic feelings,, and under the influence of 
such opinicms, Burr, in company with his friend Matthias 
Ogden, left Elizabethtown, in July, 1775, for Cambridge, 
with the intention of tendering their services in defence of 
American liberty. He had now entered his twentieth year, 
but, in appearance^ was a mere stripling. 

It has been seen that, whatever were Burr's pursuits or 
studies, his habits were those of intense appUcation. He 
had ahready imbibed a military ardour equalled by few — 
surpassed by none. Panting for glory on the battle-field^ 
information and improvement as a soldier were now the ob- 
jects that absorbed all his thoughts. On. hi^ joining the 
army, however, he was sadly disappointed in his eapecta- 
^ons. The whole was a scQne of idleness,, confusion, and 


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Aged 19.] MEMOIRS OP aaron burr. 59 

dissipation. From the want of camp-police, the health of 
the men was impaired, and many sickened and died. Of 
the officers, some were ignorant of their duty, while others 
were fearful of enforcing a rigid disciphne, lest it should 
give oflfence to those who were unaccustomed to restraint* 
Deep mortification and disappointment preyed upon the 
mind of young Burr. 

The following original letters are found among the papers 
of Colonel Burr, and, as casting some light upon the history 
of those times, are deemed of sufficient interest (and not 
inapplicable) to be inserted in this work. The patriotic re* 
ply of General Montgomery is above aU praise. 


Philadelphia, June 23d, 1779.. 

Dear Sir, 

The*Congress, having determined it necessary to keep up 
an army for the defence of America at the charge of thet 
United Colonies, have appomted the following general offi- 
cers : — George Washington, Esq., commander-in-chief. Ma-* 
jor-generals Ward, Lee, Schuyler, and Putnam. Brigadier- 
generals Pomeroy, Montgomery, yourself. Heath, Spencer,, 
Thomas, Sullivan (of New-Hampshire), and one Green, of 

I am sensible that, according to your former rank, you 
were entitled to the place of a major-general ; and as one 
was to be appointed in Connecticut, I heartily recommend-^ 
ed you to the Congress. I informed them of the arrange- 
ment made by our assembly, which I thought would be sat- 
isfactory to have them continue in the same order; But, as 
General Putnam's fame was spread abroad, and especially 
his successful enterprise at Noddle*s Island, the account of 
which had just arrived, it gave him a preference in the opin- 
ion of the delegates in general, so that his appointment waa 
unanimous among the colonies ; but, from your known abil-<^ 
ities and firm attachment to the American cause, we wem 


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very desirous of your continuance in the army, and hope 
you will accept of the appointment made by the Congress. 

I think the pay of a brigadier is about one hundi*ed and 
twenty-five dollars per month. I suppose a commission is 
sent to you by General Washington. We received intelli- 
gence yesterday of an engagement at Charlestown, but have 
not had the particulars. All the Connecticut troops are now 
taken into the continental army. I hope proper care will be 
taken to secure the colony against any sudden invasion, 
which must be at their own expense. 

I have nothing further that I am at liberty to acquaint you 
with of the doings of the Congress but what have been made 
public. I would not have any thing published in the papers 
that I vmte, lest something may inadvertently escape me 
which ought not to be published. I should be glad if you 
would write to me every convenient opportunity, and inform 
me of such occurrences, and other matters, as ydu may 
think proper and useful for me to be acquainted with. The 
general officers were elected in the Congress, not by nom* 
ination, but by ballot. 

I am, with great esteem, 

Your humble servant, 

Roger Sherman. 

David Wooster, Esq. 


Pluladelphia, July 2l8t, 1775. 

Dear Sir, 

I am directed by the Congress to acquaint you of an ar- 
rangement in the Massachusetts department, and the reason 
which led to it, lest, by misunderstanding it, you might 
think yourself neglected. 

When brigadiers-general were to be appointed, it wa» 
agreed that the first in nomination should be one of the 
Massachusetts generals. The gentlemen from that prov- 
ince reconunended General Pomeroy, who was accordingly 


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Fac Sitnilie of Gen* Motityom^ 





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Aged Id.] xsxoiRS of aaron burr. 61 

fixed upon ; but, before his commission arrived at the caxiqy, 
he had retired from the army. Under these circumstances 
the Congress thought it just to fill up the commission de^ 
signed for Mr. Pomeroy with the name of General Thomas 
as first brigadier. You, consequently, hold the rank to 
which you were elected, 

I sincerely hope this may not give you any displeasure, 
as I am confident no disrespect was intended. 

Be pleased to accept my sincere wishes for your honour 
and happiness, and particidarly in the discharge of the im-*^ 
portant trust which you have undertaken. 
I am, with regard. 

Dear sir, your most obedient servalnt, 


General Montgomery. 

general montgomery'^ answer^ 
Dear Sir, 
I have been honoured with your letter of the 21st inst* 
My acknowledgments are due for the attention shown m© 
by the Congress. 

I submit, with great cheerfulness, to any regulation they^ 
in their prudence, shall judge expedient. Laying aside the 
punctilio of the soldier ^ I shall endeavour to discharge my 
duty to society, considering myself only as the citizen, re- 
duced to the melancholy necessity of taking up arms for the 
pubUc safety. 

I am, &c., 

R. M. 

The preceding is endorsed, in the handwriting of General 
Montgomery, on the hack of Mr. Duane's letter. 

The laxity of the discipline which pervaded the camp at 
Cambridge, the inexperience of the officers, and the con- 
tests and petty squabblea about rank« all tended to excite^ 


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great jealousy and discontent in the army. As yet, Buir 
was attached to no particular corps. He mingled indiscrim- 
inately with conflicting factions, until, disgusted with the 
scene which he daily witnessed, he was violently attacked 
with a nervous fever, by which he was confined to his bed. 
One day he heard Ogden and som^ young men of the 
army conversing, in an apartment adjoining that in which he 
was lying, on the subject of an expedition. He called 
Ogden to his bedside, and inquired what was the nature of 
the expedition of which they were speaking. Ogden in*- 
formed him that Colonel Arnold, with a detachment of ten 
or twelve hundred men, was about to proceed through the 
wilderness for the purpose of attacking Quebec. Burr in- 
stantly raised himself up in the bed, and declared that he 
would accompany them ; and, so pertinacious was he on diis 
point, that he immediately, although much enfeebled, com- 
menced dressing himself. Ogden expostulated, and spoke 
of his debilitated state— referred to the hardships and pri- 
vations that he must necessarily endure on such a march, 
&c. But all was unavailing. Young Burr was determined, 
and was immoveable. He forthwith selected four or five 
hale,, hearty fellows, to whom he proposed that they should 
form a mess, and unite their destiny on the expedition through 
the wilderness. To this arrangement they cheerfully acce- 
ded. His friend Ogden^ and others of his acquaintance, 
were conveyed in carriages irom Cambridge to Newbury- 
port, distant about sixty miles ; but Burr, with his new asso- 
ciates in arms,, on the 14th of September, 1T76, shouldered 
their muskets, took their knapsacks upon their backs, and 
marched to the place of embarcation. 


Litchfield, AB8:iut ITlh, 1775. 

Mt dearest Soldier, 
I was infinitely surprised to hear from you in the army. 
I can hardly tell you what sensations I did not feel at the; 


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time. Shall not attempt to describe them, though they de- 
prived me of a night's sleep. But that was not spent alto- 
gether unhappily. My busybody, Fancy y led me a most 
romantic chase ; in which, you may be sure, I visited your 
tent; beheld you (unnoticed) musing on youar present cir- 
cumstances, apparently agitated by every emotion which 
would naturally iill the heart of one who has come to the 
resolution to risk his life for his country's freedom. You 
will excuse my mentioning, that from a deep, absent medi- 
tation, partly expressed by half-pronounced soliloquies, I 
beheld you start up, clap your hand upon your sword, and 
look so fiercely, that it almost frightened me. The scene, 
on your discovering me, immediately changed to something 
more tender ; but I won't waste paper. 

If you should happen to find Dr. James Cogswell, who 
is in Colonel Spencer's regiment, please to give my best 
love to him, and tell him he is a lazy scoundrel. 

It rains, my boy, excessively. Does it not drop through 
your tent ? Write often to 

JoNA. Bellamy. 

To A. Burr. 

As soon as the guardian and relaitives of young Burr 
heard of his determination to accompany Arnold in hi* 
expedition against Quebec, they not only remonstrated,, but 
they induced others, who were friendly to him, to adopt a 
similar course. While he remained at Cambridge, he 
received numerous letters on the subject. The two follow- 
ing are selected : — 


Camp in Rozbttry, 9th September, 1775-. 

I am extremely sorry to hear that you are determined on 
the new expedition to Quebec. I am sorry on my own ac- 
oount> as I promised myself much satisfaction and pleasure 
ia your company : but I am not altogether selfijsh ; I am^ 


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sorry on yours. The expedition in which you are engaged 
is a very arduous one; and those who are engaged in it 
must unavoidably undergo great hardships. Your consti- 
tution (if I am not much mistaken) is very deUcate, and not 
formed for the fatigues of the camp. The expedition, I am 
sensible, is a glorious one, and nothing but a persuasion of 
my inability to endure the hardships of it would have de- 
terred me from engaging in it. If this excuse was sufficient 
for me, I am persuaded it is for you, and ought to influence 
you to abandon all thoughts of undertaking it. I have no 
friend so dear to me (and I love my friends) but that I am 
willing to sacrifice for the good of the grand — the important 
cause, in which we are engaged ; but, to think of a friend's 
sacrificing himself, without any valuable end being answered 
by it, is painful beyond expression. You xoill die ; I know 
you will die in the undertaking ; it is impossible for you to 
endure the fatigue, I am so exercised about your going, 
that I should come and see you if I had not got the Scrip* 
tural excuse, — a wife, and cannot come. 

My dear friend, you must not go: I cannot bear the 
thoughts of it. 'Tis little less melancholy than following 
you to your grave. 

Your affectionate friend, 

James Cogswell. 


Watertown, 11th September, 1771 

I cannot retire to rest till I have written you a few lines^ 
to excuse my casting so many discouragements in the way 
of your journey to Quebec. At first I did not think it so 
hazardous; but, upon inquiring of those who had more 
knowledge of the country, thought it too fatiguing an under- 
taking for one of your years ; and I find it altogether against 
the sentiments of your friends. I think you might be fairly 
excused, without the risk of being reported as timid, as tha^ 
hopes of your family depend in a great degree upon you. 


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Aged 19.] MKMOIRS OF AARON BURR. - 65 

I should have rejoiced to iKee you relinquish this expedition; 
but, as you are determined to pursue it, must beg you not to 
let any thing we have said to you depress your spirits, or 
damp your resolution, ieis it may otherwise have a fatal effect 
We have held up the dark side of the picture, in order to de* 
ter you from going. You must now think only on the bright 
side, and make the least of every disagreeable circumstance 
attending your march. Let no difficulty discourage you. 
The enterprise is glorious, and, if it succeeds, will redound 
to the honour of those who have planned and executed it. 

May God give you health and strength equal to the fap 
tigue of the march, and preserve you safe from every dan- 
ger you may encounter. Make Quebec a safe retreat to the 
forces. I hope to have a particular description of Canada 
from you when you return. 

Don't turn Catholic for the sake of the girls. Again I b^ 
you to forget what I have said to discourage you. It pro- 
ceeded from love to you, and not a desire of rendering you 
ridiculous. Adieu, my dear friend. 


Peter Colt. 

A day or two after Burr's arrival at Newburyport, he was 
called upon by a messenger from his guardian, Timothy Ed- 
wards, with instructions to bring the young frigitive back. A 
letter from his uncle (T. Edwards) was delivered to him at 
the same time. Having read the letter, and heard the mes- 
senger's commimication, he coolly addressed him, and asked, \ JI- 
" How do you expect to take me back, if I should refrise to i ^^kj^^ 
go ? If you were to make any forcible attempt upon me, I j ^ 

would have you hung up in ten minutes." After a short 
pause the messenger presented a second letter from bis 
guardian, and with it a small remittance in gold. It was 
couched in the most affectionate and tender language, im- 
portuning him to return ; and depicting, in the darkest col* 
ouTB, the sufferings he must endure if he survived the at- 

VoL.1.— I 


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tempt to reach Quebec. It affected young Burr very sensi- 
bly, insomuch that he shed tears. But his destiny was fixed. 
He wrote, however, a respectful letter to his uncle, explana- 
tory of his reasons for accompanying the army, and expres- 
sive of his gratitude for the kindness he had experienced. 

On or about the 20th of September, 1775, the troops un- 
der the conunand of Arnold embarked at Newburyport. 
This detachment was to penetrate Canada about ninety or 
one hundred miles below Montreal, proceeding by the Ken- 
nebec river, and thence through the wilderness between the 
St. Lawrence and the settled parts of Maine. In this route, 
jNrecipitous mountains, deep and almost impenetrable swamps 
and morasses, were to be passed. Arnold, in a letter to Gen- 
eral Washington, dated Fort Weston, September 26th, 1776, 
says : " I design Chaudiere Pond as a general rendezvous, 
and from thence proceed in a body. I believe, from the best 
information I can procure, we shall be able to perform the 
journey in twenty days ; the distance from this being about 
one hundred and eighty miles." 

During the march through the wilderness, no regard what- 
ever was paid to order or discipline. Every man was left 
to take care of himself, and make the best of his way through 
the woods. The sufferings of this detachment fr<»B wet, 
and cold, and hunger, were excessive. From the latter, 
however, Burr suffered less than any of his companions. His 
abstemious habits in regard to eating seemed peculiarly cal- 
culated for such an expedition. Both Burr and Ogden had 
been accustomed, in small boats, to aquatic excursions round 
Staten Island and in its vicinity. They were skilful helms- 
men, and in this particular, in passing the rapids, were fre- 
quently useful. Notwithstanding this qualification, how- 
ever, Burr, with some soldiers in a boat, was carried over a 
fall of nearly twenty feet. One man was drowned, and much 
of the baggage lost. The weather was cold, and it was with 
great difficulty that he reached the shore. 

^* Arnold, who, at the head of the two first divisions, stiU 


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Aged 19.] MXMoiRS of aaron burr. 67 

prosecuted his march, was thirty-two days trayersing a hid- 
eous wilderness, without seeing a house or any thing hu- 
man. The troops were under the necessity of hauling their 
bateaux up rapid streams ; of taking them upon their shoul- 
ders, with all their provisions, across carrying-places ; and of 
traversing, and frequently repassing, for the purpose of bring- 
ing their baggage, deep morasses, thick woods, and high 
mountains. These impediments, notwithstanding the zeal- 
ous and wonderfully persevering exertions of his men, so 
protracted his march, that, though he had expected certainly 
to enter Canada about the middle of October, he did not 
reach the first settlements on the Chaudiere, which empties 
itself into the St. Lawrence near Quebec^ until the third of 

^' On the high grounds which separate the waters of the 
Kennebec firom those of the St. Lawrence, the scanty rem- 
nant of provisions was divided among the companies, each 
of which was directed, vndiout attempting to preserve any 
connexion vnth another, to march with the utmost possible 
celerity into the inhabited country. While those who gained 
the firont were yet thirty miles firom the first poor and scat* 
tered habitations whjich composed that firontier of Canada, 
their last morsel of food was consumed. But, preceded by 
Arnold, who went forward for the purpose of procuring for 
them something which might satisfy the first denmnds of 
nature, the troops still persevered in their Jabours, with a 
vigour unimpaired by the hardships they had encountered) 
until they once more found themselves in regions frequented 
by human beings."* 

On the arrival of Arnold's detachment at Chaudiere 
Pond, Burr was despatched with a verbal communication to 
General Montgomery. He disguised himself as a young 
Catholic priest. Jn this order of men he was willing to re- 
pose confidence. He knew that the French Catholics were 

• lfanhaU*8 Life cf WaahiDgtoD. 


gitized by Google 

'''x^«, itrd^'^^ « «'!Uv te^lT^.. thy-ttct^rtu 



'm^ y £» 




[Aged 1». 

not satisfied with their situation under the provincial gov* 
eminent; but especially the priesthood. Feeling no appre* 
hension for his own safety from treachery, he proceeded to 
a learned and reverend father of the church, to whom he 
communicated frankly who he was, and what was his ob« 
ject. Burr was master of the Latin language, and had an 
imperfect knowledge of the French. The priest was an ed- 
ucated man, so that a conversation was held with but Uttle 
difficulty. He endeavoured to dissuade Burr from the en- 
terprise. Spoke of it as impossible to accompUsh. He rep- 
resented the distance as great, and through an enemy's coun- 
try. The boyish appearance of Burr induced the reverend 
divine to consider him a mere child. Discovering, however, 
the settled purpose of the young adventurer, the priest pro- 
cured him a confidential guide and a cabriolet (for the ground 
was now covered with snow), and, thus prepared, he started 
on his journey. Without interruption, he was conducted in 
perfect safety from one reUgious family to another, until he 
arrived at Three Rivers. Here the guide became alarmed 
in consequence of some rumours as to the arrival of Arnold 
at the Chaudiere, and that he had despatched messengers to 
Montgomery to announce to him the fact. Under strong ap- 
prehensions, the guide refused to proceed any farther, and 
recommended to Burr to remain a few days until these ru- 
mours subsided. To this he was compelled to accede ; and, 
for greater security, he was secreted three days in a con- 
vent at that place. At the expiration of this period he again 
set off, and reached Montgomery without further detenticm 
or accident. 

On his arrival at headquarters, he explained to the gen- 
eral the character of the re-enforcement he was about to re- 
ceive ; the probable number of effective men, and the time 
at which their arrival might be anticipated. General Mont- 
gomery was so well pleased widi the details which had been 
given him, and the manner in which young Burr had effected 


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his journey after leaving Arnold, that he invited him (Burr) 
to reside at headquarters, assming him that he should re- 
ceive an appointment as one of his aids. At this time Mont- 
gomery was a brigadier, and not entitled to aids, only in vir- 
tue of his being conmiander-in-chief of the army. Previous 
to his death, however, he was appointed a major-general, but 
the information did not reach him. 

As soon as Burr had joined the family of the general, he 
entered upon the duties of an aid ; but no formal annuncia- 
tion was made until the army arrived before Quebec, when 
his appointment was announced in general orders. Arnold 
arrived at Point Levi, opposite to Quebec, on the 9th of No- 
vember, 1775. He paraded for some days on the heights 
near the town, and sent two flags to demand a surrender, 
but both were fired upon as rebels with whom no conmiu- 
nication was to be held. The true reason, however, was, 
that Colonel M'Clean, the British conmisoidant, a vigilant 
and experienced officer, knowing the weakness of his own 
garrison, deemed it impolitic, if not unsafe, to receive a flag 
from Arnold. 

The first plan for the attack upon the British works was 
essentially difierent from that which was subsequently car- 
ried into execution. Various reasons have been assigned 
for this change. Judge Marshall says, " that while the gen- 
eral (Montgomery) was making the necessary preparations 
for the assault, the garrison received intelligence of his inten- 
tion from a deserter. This circumstance induced him to 
change the plan of his attack, which had been originally to 
attempt both the upper and lower towns at the same time. 
The plan now resolved on was to divide the army into four 
parts ; and while two of them, consisting of Canadians under 
Major Livingston, and a small party under Major Brown, 
were to distract the attention of the garrison by making two 
feints against the upper town of St. Johns and Cape Dia- 
mond, the other two, led, the one by Montgomery in person, 


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and the other by Arnold, were to make real^ attacks on op 
posite sides of the lower town."* 

Colonel Burr says, that a change of the plan of attack 
was produced, in a great measure, through the advice and 
influence of Mr. Antill, a resident in Canada, who had joined 
the army ; and Mr. Price, a Montreal merchant of property 
and respectabihty, who had also come out and united his 
destiny with the cause of the colonies. Mr. Price, in par- 
ticular, was strongly impressed with the opinion, that if the 
American troops could obtain possession of the lower town, 
the merchants and other wealthy inhabitants would haye 
sufficient influence with the British conunander-in-chief to 
induce him to surrender rather than jeopard the destruction 
of all their property. It was, as Colonel Burr thought, a 
most fatal delusion. But it is beUeved that the opinion was 
honestly entertained. 

The first plan of the attack was agreed upon in a coun* 
cil, at which young Burr and his friend, Matthias Ogden, 
were present; The arrangement was to pass over the high- 
est walls at Cape Diamond. Here there was a bastion. 
This was at a distance of about half a mile from any suc- 
cour ; but being considered, in some measure, impregnable, 
the least resistance might be anticipated in that quarter. 
Subsequent events tended to prove the soundness of this 
opinion. In pursuance of the second plan. Major Living- 
ston, with a detachment under his command, made a feint 
upon Cape Diamond ; but, for about half an hour, with all 
the noise and alarm that he and his men could create, he 
was unable to attract the shghtest notice from the enemy, 
so completely unprepared were they at this point. 

While the first was the favourite plan of attack. Burr re- 
quested General Montgomery to give him the command of 
a small forlorn hope, which request was granted, and forty 
men allotted to him. Ladders were prepared, and these 

• Marshall's Life of Washington, vol. i.,p. 329. 


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Aged 19.] MlfiltOIRB OP AARON BI7BR. 71 

men kept in constant drill, until they could ascend them 
(standing almost perpendicular), with their muskets and ac- 
coutrements, with nearly the same faciUty that they could 
mount an ordinary staircase. In the success of this plan 
of attack Burr had entire confidence ; but, when it was 
changed, he entertained strong apprehensions of the result. 
He was in the habit, every night, of visiting and reconnoi- 
tring the ground about Cape Diamond, until he became 
perfectly familiarized with every inch adjacent to, oy in the 
vicinity of, the intended point of assault. 

When the attack was about to be commenced. Captain 
Burr, and other officers near General Montgomery, endeav- 
oured to dissuade him from leading in the advance; re- 
marking that, as commander-in-chief, it was not his place. 
But all argument was ineffectual and unavailing. The 
attack was made on the morning of the 31st of December, 
1775, before dayhght, in the midst of a violent snow-storm. 
The New-York troops were commanded by General Mont- 
gomery, who advanced along the St. Lawrence, by the way 
of Aimce de Mere, under Cape Diamond. The first bar^ 
rier to be surmounted was at the Pot Ash. In firont of it 
was a block-house and picket, in charge of some Cana- 
dians, who, after making a single fire, fled in confusion. On 
advancing to force the barrier, an accidental discharge of a 
piece of artillery from the British battery, when the Amer- 
ican front was within forty paces of it, killed General 
Montgomery, Captain McPherson, one of his aids. Captain 
Cheeseman, and every other person in front, except Cap- 
tain Burr and a French guide. General Montgomery was 
within a few feet of Captain Burr; and Colonel Trumbull, 
in a superb painting recently executed by him, descriptive 
of the assault upon Quebec, has drawn the general fall- 
ing in the arms of his surviving aid-de-camp. Lieuten- 
ant Colonel Campbell, being the senior officer on the 
ground, assumed the conunand, and ordered a retreat. 


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To evince the high sense entertained by his country for 
the services of General Montgomery, Congress directed a 
monument to be erected, v\rith an inscription sacred to his 
memory. They " Resqlved, That, to express the venera- 
tion of the United Colonies for their late general, Richard 
Montgomery, and the deep sense they entertained of the 
many signal and important services of that gallant officer, 
who, after a series of successes, amid the most discouraging 
difficulties, fell, at length, in a gallant attack upon Quebec, 
the capital of Canada, and to transmit to future ages, as 
examples truly worthy of imitation, his patriotism, conduct, 
boldness of enterprise, insuperable perseverance, and con- 
tempt of danger and death, a monument be procured from 
Paris, or other part of France, with an inscription sacred to 
his memory, and expressive of his amiable character and 
heroic achievements ; and that the continental treasurer be 
directed to advance a sum, not exceeding three hundred 
pounds^ sterling, to Dr. Benjamin Franklin, who is desired 
to see this resolution properly executed, for defraying the 
expenses thereof." 

This resolve was carried into execution at Paris by that 
ingenious artist, M. Caffieres, sculptor to Louis XVI., king 
of France, imder the direction of Dr. Benjamin Franklin, 
The monument is of white marble, of the most beautiful 
simplicity and inexpressible elegance, with emblematical 
devices, and the following truly classical inscription, worthy 
of the modest but great mind of Franklin. 


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kgei 19.] icxMoiRS OF aaroh buee. 73 








This monument was erected in front of St. Paul's Church, 
in the city of New-York, in the spring of 1789. 

General Arnold temporarily became commander-in-chief 
pf the American army near Quebec, and was accordingly 
removed to headquarters. Young Burr was now called 
XLfoa to perform the duties of Inrigade major. Amold't 
plan was, by a close blockade, to starve out the enemy ; 
but, from the weakness of his force, he soon discovered that 
this was impracticable; and he knew that, on the open- 
ing of the spring, he could not retain his present position, 
but must retreat. He therefore resolved to send in a flag 
of truce, and demand a surrender. He informed Captain 
Burr that he was about to send him with a communication 
to General Carlton, the British commander. Captain Burr 
required that he should be made acquainted with its con- 
tents. Arnold objected ; whereupon Burr remarked that, 
if the general wished it, he would resign ; but that he could 
not consent to be the bearer of the communication without 
posi^essing a knowledge of its character. At length, it was 
exhibited to him. It was demanding a surrender of the 
fortress, but in terms that Captain Burr considered tmbe- 
coming an American officer, and he so stated to the gen- 
eral; addii^, that the bearer of such a message, if he 
were permitted to deUver it, would be treated by the British 
with contumely and contempt ; and ih&cefaxe dedined (he 
mission. Another officer was selected, and met the fate 
Burr anticipated. Shorfly after (April 1st, 1T76), General 

Vol. I.— K 4 


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74 xxMouu 07 JLAROH BURm* [Aged 19. 

Wooster arriTed from Montreal and took the command. 
He was succeeded by General Thomas about the Ist of 
May ; and, on the 5th of May, it was determined in council 
to raise the blockade of Quebec, and that the sick and 
wounded should be immediately removed, with the artillery 
and stores, by boats, to Three Rivers, preparatory to a 

Burr's perseverance and zeal during the march through 
the wilderness with Arnold, his subsequent boldness in 
joining Montgomery, and his intrepidity at the assault on 
Quebec, had acquired for him great reputation in the army, 
and had drawn towards him the attention of some of the 
most distinguished whigs in the United Provinces. From 
every quarter he received highly complimentary letters. 
From a few of them extracts are made. Colonel Antill, a 
resident of Montreal, who had joined the American army, 
thus addresses him, five days after the fiedl of Montgomery : — 

** La Chine, 5th January, 1776. 

'' Dear Burr, 
"I have desired Mr. Price to deliver you my pistols, 
which you will keep until I see you. They are relics 
from my father's family, and therefore I cannot give them 
to you. The general (Wooster) has thought proper to 
send me to the Congress, where I shall have an opportunity 
of speaking of you as you deserve. 

"Edward Antill." 

On the 4th of January, General Wooster writes from 
Montreal to General Arnold : — 

" Give my love to Burr, and desire him to remain with 
Colonel Clinton* for the present. Not only him, but all 
those brave officers who have so nobly distinguished them- 

* James ClintODi afterwards genoral, brother of Goremor George Clinton. 


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selves, I shall ever remember with gratitude and the high- 
est degree of approbation, and shall not fail to represent 
them accordingly. 

" Datid Wooster." 

From a college-chmn of great merit, he received a letter, 

*< Philadelphia, January 24th, 1776. 

"Dear Burr, 
'^ I am informed a gentleman is just setting off for Que- 
bec, and snatch the opportunity of at once condoling with 
you for the loss of your brave general, and congratulating 
you on the credit you have gained in that action. Tis said 
you behaved well — ^you behaved gallantly. I never doubted 
but you would distinguish yourself, and your praise is now 
in every man's mouth. It has been my theme of late. I 
will not say I was perfectly disinterested in the encomiums 
I bestowed. You were a son of Nassau Hall, and reflected 
honour on the place of my education. You were my class- 
mate and friend, and reflected honour on me. I make no 
doubt but your promotion will be taken care of. The gen- 
tlemen of the Congress speak highly of you. 
" Your affectionate, 

"William Bradford, Jun." 

Judge Tappan Reeve writes — 

«* Stockbridge, January 27th, 1T76. 

"Dear Burr, 
" Amid the lamentations of a country for the loss of a 
brave, enterprising general, your escape from such imminent 
danger, to which you have been exposed, has afforded us 
the greatest satisfaction. The news of the unfortunate 
attack upon Quebec arrived among us on the Idth of this 
month. I concealed it from your sister until the 18th, 
when she found it out ; but, in less than half an hour, I re- 
ceived letters from Albany, acquainting me that you were in 


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76 MBMoiRS OF AARON BiTsm« [Aged I9< 

safety, and had gained great honour by your intrepid coa^ 
duct. It gave us a kind of happiness that I should be very 
loath ever again to enjoy ; for it never can be the case until 
you have again been exposed to the like danger, and have 
again escaped it, which I hope may never happen. To 
know that you were in safety gave great pleasure. It was 
heightened by hearing that your conduct was brave. Could 
you have been crowned with success, it would have been 

" It was happy for us that we did not know that you were 
an aid-de-camp, until we heard of your welfeure ; for we 
heard that Montgomery and his aid-de-camps were killed, 
without knowing who his aid-de-camps were. 

" Your sister enjoys a middling state of health. She has 
many anxious hours upon your account ; but she tells me 
that, as she believes you may serve your country in the 
business in which you are now employed, she is contented 
that you should remain in the army. It must be an exalted 
public spirit that could produce such an effect upon a sister 
as afifectionate as yours. 

« Adieu. 

«T. Reetb.'» 

His friend, Jonathan Bellamy, writes, 

** Norwich, Marcfa 3d, 1776. 

" My very dear Friend, 

" Be jou yet alive ? I have been infinitely distressed for 
you ; but I hope it is now as safe with you as glorious. 
Doctor Jim Cogswell has left the army. A few dap ago I 
received a letter from him. *I doubt not,' he says, *yoti 
have most sensible pleasure in the applauses bestowed on 
our friend Burr ; when I hear of his gallant behaviour, I 
feel exquisite delight.' 

" Curse on this vile distance between us. I am restless 
to tell you every thing ; but uncertainty whether you would 
ever hear it bids me be silent, till, in some future happy 


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Aged 19.] UMmoM of aaeom Birmm. 77 

meetmgt I mty hdii you to my bosom, and impart to you 
every emotion of my heart 

"Yours sincerely, 


Immediately after the repulse of the Americans at Que«> 
bee, his friend Ogden returned to New-Jersey, but spent 
much of his time with the army in the city of New-York. 
He writes to Burr, dated 

New-York, 20th March) 1776. 

Some weeks have elapsed since I saw Walker and Price. 
To-day I met with Hopkins at this place. My first inquiry 
was for letters from you. I mean not to upbraid you. This 
is the third time of my writing since I left you. I shall con- 
tinue it, with the hope of giving you some small satisfaction. 
Miss Dayton is well, and will soon be mine. Barber is ap- 
pointed major in the third Jersey battalion, of which Dayton 
is colonel, and Walton White lieutenant-colonel. Hancock 
was particular in his inquiry after you, and was disap^ 
pointed in not receiving a line from you. I was kindly re- 
ceived on my arrival at Philadelphia. The Congress have 
since appointed me lieutenant-colcoiel in the first Jersey bat- 
talion, in the room of Lieutenant-colonel Winds, who has 
the regiment in the stead of Lord Stirling, who is advanced 
to a brigadier-general. 

Colonel Allen, who hands you this, is much of a gentle-* 
man, and worthy your attention. Melcher has hobbled him- 
self. Inquire of Colonel Allen. Greneral Thonq>son com- 
mands. To-morrow my appointment will be announced in 
general orders, whereupon I shall join my regiment, but shall 
obtain leave of absence for a week or two. EUzabethtown 
swarms with girls, among which is Miss Noel. I have not 
seen Miss Ricketts. 

When 1 was in Philadelphia, Colonel Reed expressed a de- 
sire of serving me. He said there was a vacancy in General 


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78 MBMOIRS OF AARpN BVMl* [Aged 20. 

Washington's family, and doubted not his rec<»n]Qendati<Hi 
would procure it for me. I declined it, hoping to get a more 
active office, but desired he would procure it for you. If 
any thing offers at Quebec, accept it, as it will not hinder 
your appointment here. Washington is expected in New- 
York, when I shall have a better chance of bringing it 
about. The pay and rank are equal to a full major. I shall 
write you by Price. Miss Dayton is particular in her in- 
quiries after you. 

Yours sincerely, 

Matt. Ogden. 

In the spring of 1776, the army mored from Montreal to 
the mouth of the Sorel. Major Burr yet remained with it. 
While at Montreal, he became disgusted with General Ar- 
nold, on account of his meanness and other bad quaUties. On 
the march through the wfldemess, he was far from being 
satisfied with the general. Burr thought he provided too 
carefully for himself; and that he did not sufficiently share 
the fatigues and privaticms of the march in common with the 
troops. Immediately after arriving at the Sorel, he informed 
the general of his desire to visit his friends, and to ascertain 
what was doing, as he wished more active employment. 
General Arnold objected somewhat petulantly. Burr re- 
marked courteously, but firmly, *' Sir, I have a boat in read- 
iness. I have employed four discharged soldiers to row 
me, and I start to-morrow morning at six o'clock.** He then 
designated the point at which he should embark. AmoM 
forbade his departure, vdiereupon Burr reiterated his deter- 

The next morning, at the specified hour, he repaired to his 
boat, and shortly after discovered the general approaching. 
" Why, Major Burr,** says he, " you are not going f* — ^** I 
am, sir," replied the major. " But you know, sir, it is con- 
trary to my wish and against my orders." — " I know, sir, that 
you have the power of stopping me, but nothing short of 


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Aged 20/] lUMOlu or aaron bveb. 79 

force shall do it.** The general then changed his time and 
manner, and endearoured to dissuade ; but, after a few nun-» 
utes' conversation, Burr wished him great success, then em* 
barked, and took his departure without interruption. 

On the Sorel an incident occurred which gave some alann 
to the voyagers. Btirr had taken into his boat, as a kind of 
companion, a young merchant. On the borders of the river 
they suddenly discovered a large brick house, with wings, 
having loopholes to fire through, and in view, at the door, 
stood an Indian warrior, in full costume. The oarsmen were 
for attempting to retreat. Burr said it was too late, as they 
were within the reach of the Indians' rifles. The passen- 
ger was about to stop the men from rowing, when Burr 
threatened to shoot him if he interfered. The inquiry was 
then made — " What are we to do ?" The major replied, 
'^ Row for the shore and land ; I will go up to the house, and 
we shall soon learn what they are." By this time several 
other Indians had made their appearance. On reaching the 
shore. Burr took his sword and proceeded to meet the red 
men. An explanaticm ensued, and it was ascertained that 
they were fiiendly. The stores were landed from the boat, 
and a merrimaking followed. 

Major Burr continued his route to Albany. On his arri- 
val, and while there, he was notified verbally that it would 
be agreeable to the commander-in-chief (General Washing* 
ton) that he should visit New- York. He forthwith pro- 
ceeded down the river, and arrived in the city about the 
20th of May, 1T76. He immediately reported himself to 
the commander-in-chief, who invited him to join his family 
at headquarters until he received a satisfactory appointment. 
The quarters of General Washington were at that time in 
the house subsequently owned by Colonel Burr, and known 
as Richmond Hill. This invitation was accepted, and Ma<- 
jor Burr occasionally rode out with the general, but very 
soon became restless and dissatisfied. He wrote to John 
Hancock, then president of Congress, and who had been an 


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intimate fneod of his father, that he was disgusted, and in^ 
clined to retire from the senrice. Goremor Hancock ob- 
jected, and asked him whether he would accept the appoint- 
ment of aid-de-camp to Major-general Putnam, then in c(»n- 
mand in the city of New-York. Burr consented, and re- 
moved from the headquarters of the commander-in-chief to 
those of Major-general Putnam. About this period Burr 
received a letter from his friend, now Lieutenant-colonel M. 
Ogden, who had proceeded to the north with his regiment. 
He writes. 

Fart George, Mh Jane, 1776. 

Dear Burr, 

I this evening experienced the greatest disappointment I 
have met with since my memory. I yesterday saw Mr. 
Price; he informed me that you were on your way, in 
company with the commissioners, who, I was this day in- 
formed, were coming by the way of Skeenesborough. I 
altered my course, and went that way, till I met them on 
the road. They informed me you were coming by Lake 
George. I then turned about, very much afraid you would 
pass me before I came into the lake road. But what neces- 
sity for enumerating all these circumstances ? I have missed 
you. D — ^n the luck. I never so much desired, nor had 
occasion so much for an interview. I have not received a 
single line from you since I left Canada. Perhaps you 
have not written, or perhaps they have miscarried. If 
they have miscarried, withered be the hand that held them 
back. Tell me you omitted through carelessness, neglect, 
hurry of business, or any thing, rather than want of friend- 

General Washington desired me to inform you that he 
will provide for you, and that he expects you wiU come to 
him immediately, and stay in his family. I should have 
acquainted you of this by letter, had I not expected to have 
seen you. You will now want yomc horse. I have sold 


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Aged 20.] MKMOIRB OF AARON BURR. . 81 

him, and spent the money, and expect I shall not be able tP 
refund it until my return. 

I am, if I ever was, 

Yours sincerely, 

Matthias Oodbn. 

Before the preceding letter was received by Major Burr, 
he felt piqued at what he supposed the coldness and neglect 
of his friend Ogden, and, under the influence of such feel-* 
ings, wrote the fdlowing : — 

New-York, 18th Jane, 1776. 

Dear Ogden, 

A correspondence, which I flattered myself in former 
times was mutually agreeable, has of late somehow 
strangely found an end. You may remember, when you 
left Canada, I engaged to answer your first letter imme- 
diately, and to continue writing from that time, by every 
opportunity, as usual. I concluded your letters must have 
miscarried, and wrote you a line by Mr. Avery, I had no 
direct intelligence from you, till a verbal message by Mr, 
Duggan, the beginning of May. A few days after, I re- 
ceived a letter from Colonel Ogden by Colonel Allen. I 
should have answered it, but had determined to visit my na^ 
tive colony, and expected, by personal interview, to answer 
purposes which I scarce hoped the cold medium of ink and 
paper could effect. 

That I unfortunately missed you on my way hither^ I 
need not relate. At Albany I first heard you had pa^secl 
me. I was upon ihe point of following you ; but th^ char-» 
acter of troublesome fool struck me in so disagreeable 9 
light, fliat, in spite of myself, I continued my journey. 

There is in man a certain love of novelty ; ^ fondness of 
variety (useful, indeed, within proper limits)^ which influences 
more at less in almost every act of life* New views, new 
laws, new friends, have each their charm, Truly gr^ 

Vol. I.— L 4* 


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Jf ,rV^. Cl'jtW^- ^j U,K*^'UHi^ (tt^^u^u 



[Aged 80. 



must be the soul, and firm almost beyond the weakness of 
humanity, that can withstand the smiles of fortune. Suc- 
cess, promotion, the caresses of the great, and the flatteries^ 
of the low, are sometimes fatal to the noblest minds. The 
volatile become an easy prey. The fickle heart, tiptoe with 
joy, as from an eminence, views with contempt its former 
joys, connexions, and pursuits. A new taste contracted, 
seeks companions suited to itself. But pleasures easiest 
tasted, though perhaps at first of higher glee, are soonest 
past, and, the more they are relied upon, leave the severer 
sting behind. One cloudy day despoils the glow-worm of all 
its glitter. 

Should fortune ever frown upon you, Matt. ; should those 
you now call friends forsake you ; should the clouds gather 
force on every side, and threaten to burst upon you, think 
then iqKMi the man who never betrayed you ; rely on the 
sincerity you never foimd to fail ; and if my heart, my life, 
or my fortune can assist you, it is yours. 

I go to-morrow to Elizabethtown, where I shall see the 
best of women— your wife. Whatever letters or conunands 
she may have for you^ I shall be careful to forward by the 
safest hands. 

Your friend, 

Aaron Burr. 

In the beginning of July, 1776, Major Burr was appomt- 
ed aid-de-camp to General Putnam. At this time the head- 
qviarters of the general were in the large brick house, yet 
staijding, at the comer of Broadway and the Battery. Burr 
contimed occasionally to correspond vnth his* firiends, but 
was much occupied with his military duties, and those stud- 
ies which "were calculated to render him scientifically mas* 
ter of his profession. During the short period that he re- 
mained in the family of General Washington, he was treat- 
ed with respect ahd attention ; but soon perceived, as he 
diofUght, an unwillingness to afford that information, and 


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Aged 20.] MEMOIRS of aaron burr. 83 

those technical explanations of great historical military} 
movements, which an inquiring and enlightened mind, like | 
Burr's, sought with avidity and perseverance. He therefore 
became apprehensive, if he remained with the conunander- 
in-chief, that, instead of becoming a scientific soldier, he 
should dwindle down into a practical clerk — a species of 
drudgery to which his pecuniary circumstances did not ren- 
der it necessary for him to submit, and for which neither 
his habits, his education, nor his temperament in any degree 
qualified him. He therefore determined promptly on a 
change^ and was willing to enter the family of Major-general 
Putnam, because he would there enjoy the opportunities for 
study, and the duties which he would be required to per* 
form would be strictly military. There is no doubt the 
short residence of Major Burr with General Washington 
laid the foundation for those prejudices which, at a future 
day, ripened into hostile feelings on both sides. 
Judge Paterson thus writes him ;— r 

New^Bnmswick, July 99d, |770. 

Mt dear Burr, 
I did myself the pleasure of writing you by my brother, 
who is in General Sullivan's brigade, and who was in expect 
tation of seeing you, as he was destined for the Canada de^ 
partment. Indeed, firom the friendship which subsisted be^ 
tween us, I was in expectation of hearing firequently from 
you, and, to tell the truth, was not a little mortified that I 
was passed over in silence. Why, Burr, all this negligence ? 
I dare not call it forgetfulness, for I cannot bear the thought 
<rf giving up my place in your esteem. I rejoice at your 
return, ajid congratulate you on your promotion. I w^^ at? 
tending the convention at Burlington when you passed o^ 
to Philadelphia, and was full of the pleasing hope of having 
an interview with you. The Delaware, indeed, ran between 
us-— a mighty obstacle, to be sure ! J inquired when yon 
designed to return, that I might pla.nt myself at Bristol, an4 


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84 MBM0IR8 OF AARON BURR. [Aged 20. 

intercept you on your way. The inquiry was of no avafl. 
I have at times been violently tempted to write you a rail- 
ing letter, and for that purpose have more than once taken 
up the pen. But I can hardly tell how, on such occasions, 
the Genius of Friendship would rise up to view, and soften 
me down into all the tenderness of affectionate sorrow — 
perhaps because I counted you as lost. I find I must e'en 
forgive you — ^but, remember, you must behave better in fu- 
ture. Do write me now and then. Your letters will give 
me unfeigned pleasure, and, for your encouragement, I 
promise to be a faithfal correspondent. In the letter-wsLy 
you used to be extremely careless ; you know I am, in that 
respect, of a different turn. 

This will be handed you by Mr. Hugg and Mr. Learning, 
members of our conventicHi, whom curiosity pardy, and 
partly business, have impelled to New-York. As men, they 
are genteel, sensible, and deserving. As politicians, they 
are worthy of your regard, for they possess the g^fiuine 
spirit of whiggism. They have no acquaintance in York. 
They are demons of seeing the fortifications, and other 
things in the military line. Pray take them by the hand ; 
and be assured that any kindness shown them will be ac- 
knowledged as an additional obligation conferred upon 

Your affectionate 

Wm. Patersov. 

A. Burr replies to this letter :— 

New-York, Jul j SOOi, 17711 

My dear Patbrson, 
I this day received your kind letter. It gave me a pleas- 
ure I seldom experience. Can it be that you have still in 
memory the vagrant Burr ? Some fatality has ever attend*.' 
ed our endeavours to meet. Why I have not written to you 
I cannot tell. It has not been ioit want of firiendship, <^ m^ 
cUnation, or always of opportunity; but s(»ne unavoidable 


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Aged 20.] KBMOiRS or aaron burr. ^ 85 

accidents prevented so long, that I began to fear a letter from 
me must be ushered in by some preyious introduction, some 
anecdotes of the writer, which might renew your remem- 
brance, and authorize a freedom of this nature. But your 
frank and kind epistle precludes fulsome apologies, which, 
though sometimes necessary, I esteem, at best, but a drug 
in letters. 

I am exceedingly pleased with your friends, Messrs. Hugg 
and Leaming, but was unfortunate enough to be from home 
the day they came in town, and had not the pleasure of see- 
ing them till this afternoon. I felt myself so nearly inter- 
ested in the welfare of the province whose constitution you 
are now framing, that I did not urge their stay with the 
warmth my inclination prompted. If any other of our Jer- 
sey friends should be coming this way, I should be happy 
in showing them every civility in my power. 

As to promises of writing, I shall make you none, my 
dear Bill, till those already on hand, and of long standing, 
are discharged. I am no epistolary politician or news- 
monger ; and as to sentiments, a variety of novelties and 
follies has entirely dissipated them. This, however, is 
only a new apology for an old misfortune. But why this 
to you, who know me better than I know myself? This 
epistolary chat, though agreeable, is by no means satisfac- 
tory. The sincerity of my long-smothered affections is not 
to be thus expressed. I must cwitrive to shake you by the 
hand. Perhaps I may, ere long, be sent to Elizabethtown 
or Amboy cm business, and will, undoubtedly, take Bruns- 
wick in my way. I have, or had cmce, an agreeable female 
acquaintance with Miss S. D., now Mrs. S., and with Miss 
S. was on tolerable terms of intimacy. Could I but recon- 
noitre a while, and find how the land lay, I might, perhaps, 
be able to graduate my compliments with some propriety, 
from cold respects to affectionate regards. I think I must . 
leave you discretionary orders on this head> begging you to 


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86 MSMOIRS OF AARON BimR- [Aged 20. 

make use of all the policy of war. There is no knowing of 
what importance it may be to 

Your affectionate 

A. Burr. 


From the year 1780 until the year 1795, Mrs. Margaret 
Coghlan made no inconsiderable noise in the court and 
fashionable circles of Great Britain and France. She was 
the theme of conversation among the lords, and the dukes, 
and the M. P.'s. Having become the victim, in early life, 
of licentious, dissolute, and extravagant conduct, alternately 
she was revelling in wealth, and then* sunken in poverty. 
At length, in 1793, she published her ovm memoirs. Mrs. 
Coghlan was the daughter of Major Moncrieffe, of the 
British army. He was Lord Comwallis's brigade major. 
Her father had three wives. She was a daughter of the 
first wife. His second wife was Miss L*********, of New- 
York, and his third wife Miss J**, of New- York. Mrs. 
Coghlan is introduced here, because her early history is in- 
timately connected with the subject of these memoirs. 

In July, 1776, she resided in Elizabethtown, New- Jersey. 
Her father was with Lord Percy on Staten Island. In her 
memoirs, speaking of herself, she says : — " Thus destitute of 
friends, I wrote to General Putnam, who instantly answered 
my letter by a very kind invitation to his house, assuring 
me that he respected my father, and was only his enemy in 
the field of battle ; but that, in private life, he himself, or any 
part of his family, might always command his services. On 
the next day he sent Colonel Webb, one of his aid-de-camps, 
to conduct me to New- York. When I arrived in the Broad- 
way (a street so called), where General Putnam resided, I 


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Aged 20.] MEMOIRS or aarok bu&r. 87 

was receiyed with great tendemeas, both by Mrs. Putnam 
and her daughters, and on the following day I was intrp- 
duced by them to General and Mrs. Washington, who like- 
wise made it their study to show me every mark of regard ; 
but I seldom was allowed to be alone, although sometimes, 
indeed, I found an opportunity to escape to the gallery on 
the top of the house, where my chief deUght was to view, 
with a telescope, our fleet and army at Staten Island. My 
amusements were few ; the good Mrs. Putnam employed 
me and her daughters constantly to spin flax for shirts for 
the American soldiers ; indolence, in America, being totally 
discouraged; and I likewise worked some for General Put- 
nam, who, though not an accompUshed muscadiny like our 
dilletantis of St. James's-street, was certainly one of the 
best characters in the world ; his heart being composed of 
those noble materials which equally conamand respect and 
adniiration. ♦•**** 

" Not long after this circumstance^ a flag of truce arrived 
from Staten Island, with letters from Major Moncrieffe, de^ 
manding me ; for he now considered me as a prisoner. Gen- 
eral Washington would not acquiesce in this demand, saying 
that I should remain a hostage for my father's good beha- 
viour. I must here observe, that when General Washington 
refused to deliver me up, the noble-minded Putnam, as if it 
were by instinct, laid his hand on his sword, and with a vio- 
lent oath swore that my father's request should be granted. 
The commander-in-chief, whose influence governed Con- 
gress, soon prevailed on them to consider me as a person 
whose situation required their strict attention; and that I 
might not escape they ordered me to Kingsbridge, where, in 
justice I must say, that I was treated with the utmost ten- 
derness. General Mifilin there commanded. His lady was 
a most accomplished, beautiful woman ; a Quaker," &c. 

Mrs. Coghlan then bursts forth in expressions of rapture 
for a young American officer, with whom she had become 
enamoured. She does not name him; but that officer was 


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88 1UBM0IR8 or AARON BiT&K. [Aged 20. 

Major Burr. "May these pages" (she says) *' erne day n^et 
the eye <rf him who subdued my yirgin heart. • * • • • To 
him I plighted my virgin vow. •*•*•• With this conquer- 
or of my soul, how happy should I now have been ! What 
; storms and tempests should I have avoided" (at least I am 
pleased to think so) " if I had been allowed to follow the bent 
of my inclinations. Ten thousand times happier should I 
i"*^ j have been with him in the wildest desert of our native couur 
I ' try, the woods affording us our only shelter, and their fruits 
; 1 our only repast, than under the canopy of costly state, with 
; / all the refinements of courts, with the royal warrior'* (the 
! ' Duke of York) " who would fain have proved himself the 
J conqueror of France. My conqueror was engaged in an- 
other cause ; he was ambitious to obtain other laurels. He 
\ fought to liberate, not to enslave naticms. He was a colo- 
' ; nel in the American army, and high in the estimation of his 
i country. His victories were never accompanied with one 

? gloomy, relenting thought. They shone as bright as the 

cause which achieved them." 
* The letter from General Putnam of which Mrs. Coghlan 

speaks is found among the papers ci Colonel Burr, and is 
in the following words : — 

New-YoriL, July 8^, 1776. 

I should have answered your letter sooner, but had it not 
in my power to write you any thing satisfactory. 

The omission of my title, in Major Moncrieffe's letter, is 
a matter I regard not in the least ; nor does it in any way 
influence my conduct in this affair, as you seem to imagine. 
Any political difference alters him not to me in a private 
capacity. As an officer, he is my enemy, and obliged to act 
as such, be his private sentiments what they will. As a 
man, I owe him no enmity ; but, far from it, will, with pleas- 
ure, do any kind office in my power for him or any of his 

I have, agreeably to your desire, waited on his eixellency 


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Aged 20.] 


to endeaTOur to obtain pennission for you to go to Statien 
Island. He infonns me that Lieutenant-colonel Pattersoi^ 
who came with the last flag, said he was empowered to 

oflFer the exchange of for Governor Skeene. As 

the Congress have reserved to themselves the right of^ex- 
changing prisoners, the general has sent to know their plee?^ 
ure, and doubts not they will give their consent. I am de'- 
sired to inform you, that if this exchange is made, you vrill 
have liberty to pass out with Governor Skeene ; but that no 
flag will be sent solely for that purpose. 

Major William Livingston was lately here, and infonned 
me that you had an inclination to live in this city, and that 
all the ladies of your acquaintance having left town, and 
Mrs. Putnam and two daughters being here, proposed your 
staying with them. If agreeable to you, be assured, miss, 
you shall be sincerely welcome. You will here, I think, 
be in a more probable way of accomplishing the end you 
wish— that of seeing your father, and may depend upon 
every civility from. 

Your obedient servant, 

Israel Putnak. 

^/* This l^ter is in the handwriting of Major Burr, and un 
doubtedly was prepared by him for the signature of the 
general. Miss Moncriefie vras, at this time, in her four- 
teenth year. She had travelled, and, for one of her age, had 
mingled much in the world. She was accomplished, and 
was considered handsome. Major Burr was attracted by 
her sprightliness and vivacity, and she, according to her 
own confessions, penned nearly twenty years afterward, had 
not only become violently in love with, but had acknowl- 
edged the fact to him. Whether the foundation of her 
future misfortunes v^as now laid, it is not necessary to 
inquire. Her indiscretion was evident, while Major Burr's 
propensity for intrigue was already well known. 
Vol. I.— M 



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Burr perceiyed immediately that she was an extraordi* 
naiy young woman. Eccentric and volatile, but endowed 
with talents, natural as weU as acquired, of a peculiar char* 
acter. Residing in the family of General Putnam with her^ 
and enjoying the opportunity of a close and intimate inter- 
course, at all times and on all occasions, he was enabled to 
judge of her qualifications, and came to the conclusion, not- 
withstanding her youth, that she was well calculated for k 
spy, and thought it not improbable that she might be em- 
ployed in that capacity by me British. Major Burr sug- 
gested his suspicions to General Putnam, and recommended 
that she be conveyed to her friends as soon as might be 
convenient. She was, in consequence, soon after removed 
to Kingsbridge, where General Mifflin commanded. This 
change of situation, in the work which she has published, is 
ascribed to General Washington, but it originated with 
Major Burr. 

After a short residence at Kingsbridge, leave was granted 
for her departure to Staten Island. She accordingly set off 
in a continental barge, under the escort of an American offi- 
cer, who was ordered to accompany her to the British head- 
quarters. As the boat approached the English fleet, she was 
met by another, having on board a British officer, and was 
notified that she could proceed no further, but that the king's 
officer would take charge of the young,lady, and convey her 
in safety to her father, who was six or eight miles in the 
country with Lord Percy. She says, in her memoirs, "I 
then entered the British barge, and bidding an eternal fare- 
well to my dear American firiends, turned my hack on lib^ 

Miss Moncrieffe, before she had reached her fourteenth 
year, was probably the victim of seduction. The language 
of her memoirs, when taken in connexion with her deport- 
ment soon after her marriage, leaves but little room for doubt. 
Major Burr, while yet at college, had acquired a reputation 
for gallantry. On this point he was excessively vain, an4 


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4^ Wai. i^- Kii>'fc •4^' 



'Aged 20.] 



regardless of all those ties which ought to control an honour- 
able mind. In his intercourse with females he was an un- 
principled flatterer, ever prepared to take advantage of their 
weakness, their credulity, or their confidence^ She that 
confided in him was lost. In referring to this subject, no 
terms of condemnation would be too strong to apply to Col- 
onel Burr. 

It is truly surprising how any indiridual could have be- 
come so eminent as a soldier, as a statesman, and as a pro^ 
fessional man, who devoted so much time to the other sex 
as was devoted by Colonel Burr. For more than half a 
century of his life they seemed to absorb his whole 
thoughts. His intrigues were without number. His con- 
duct most licentious. The sacred bonds of friendship were 
unhesitatingly violated when they operated as barriers to the 
indulgence of his passions. For a long period of time he 
seemed to be gathering, ^d carefully preserving, every line 
written to him by any female, whether with or without rep- 
utation ; and, when obtained, they were cast into one com- 
mon receptacle, — ^the profligate and corrupt, by the side of 
the thoughtless and betrayed victim. AU were held as 
trophies of victory, — all esteemed alike valuable. How 
shocking to the man of sensibility! How mortifying and 
heart-sickening to the intellectual, the artless, the fallen fair ! 

Among these manuscripts were many the production of 
highly cultivated minds. They were calculated to excite 
the sympathy of the brother — the parent — the husband. 
They were, indeed, testimonials of the weakness of the 
weaker sex, even where genius and learning would seem to 
be towering above the arts of the seducer. Why they were 
thus carefully preserved, is left to conjecture. Can it be 
true that Moore is correct, when, in his life of Lord Byron, 
he says, " The allusions which he (Byron) makes to in- 
stances of sticcessful passion inhis career, were not without 
their influence on the fancies of that sex, whose weakness it. 
is to be most easily won by those who come recommended J 



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[Aged 20. 




1> ■: 


by the greatest number of triumphs orer others T Some of 
these productions had been penned more than sixty years. 
They were all committed to the flames, howerer, iounedi- 
ately after the decease of Colonel Burr. Of them, it is be- 
lieved, " not a wreck remains." 

The faithful biographer could not pass over in silence this 
strong and revoking trait in the character of Colonel Burr. It 
wiH not again be referred to. From details, the moralist and 
the good man must shrink with disgust and abhorrence. In 
this particular, Burr appears to have been unfeeUng and heart- 
less. And yet, by a fascinating power almost peculiar to 
himself, he so managed as to retain the affection, in some 
instances, the devotion, of his deluded victims. In every 
other respect he was kind and charitable. No man would 
go farther to alleviate the sufferings of another. No man 
was more benevolent. No man would make greater sacri- 
fices to promote the interest or the happiness of a friend. 
How strange, how inconsistent, how conflicting are these 
allusions ! They are nevertheless strictly true. 

Many of the letters to and from Colonel Burr contain 
hints and opinions as to public men and measures. Thus 
far, they are links in the chain of history, in relation to the 
times when they were written. They serve, also, to illus- 
trate the character and the principles of the writers them- 
selves. With these views they are occasionally selected. 
Theodore Sedgwick is a name recorded in the annals of 
our country vrith distinction. He writes to Burr : — 

Sheffield, 7th AugQot, 1776. 

My dear Burr, 
If you remember, s(»ne months since, you and I mutually 
engaged to correspond by letter. I told you then that you 
were not to expect any thing either entertaining, or in any 
degree worth the trouble of perusing. What can a reason- 
able being expect from an inhabitant of such an obscure, 
remote, and dead place as Sheffield, to amuse, instruct, or 


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Aged 20.J MKMOiRS or aabon burr. 93 

eyen to merit the attention oi a young, gay, enterprising 
martial genius ? I know you will eiq>ect nothing, and I 
dare pledge my honour, therefore, that you will not, either 
' now or in ftiture, in this respect, be disappointed. 

You recollect, perhaps, that when I had the pleasure 
to see you here, I infomied you of a design to visit New* 
York and the southward. Soon after my business called 
me to Boston, and, on my return, I was obUged to go with 
the miUtia to Peekskill ; from there I should have visited the 
city and my friends, had not some foolish accidents prevent- 
ed. I now think, as soon as I can leave home, of making a 
tour ; but this, like other futurities, is wholly uncertain. 

The insignificant figure I make, in my own opinion, in 
diis dfiy of pditical and martial exertions, is an humbling 
consideration. To be stoically indifferent to the great 
events that are now unfolding, is altogether inconsistent, 
not only with my inclination, but even with my natural 
constitution ; and to pursue a line of conduct which indi- 
cates such a disposition (I mean my continuance at home), 
is a mystery for which I will endeavour to account. Re- 
member, I do not intend to libel the colony to which I 

Amid the ccmfusion which was at once the cause and 
consequence of a dissolution of government, men's minds 
as well as actions became regardless of all legal restraint. 
All power reverted intb the hands of the people, who were 
determined that every one should be convinced that the 
people were the fountain of all honour. The first thing 
they did was to withdraw all confidence from every one 
who had ever any connexion vrith government. Law- 
yers Vrere, almost universally, represented as the pests of 
society. All persons who would pay court to these ex- 
travagant and unreasonable prejudices became their idols. 
Abilities were represented as dangerous, and learning as a 
crime, or rather, the certain forerunner of all political ex- 
travagances. They really demonstrated ihat they were 


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possessed of creating power ; for^ by the word of their 
power f they created great men out of nothing ; but I can- 
not say that all was very well, 

Obsenring these violent symptoms, I could not pursue 
that which was the only road to preferment; and I have 
never had an offer to go into the army, except the one I 
accepted ; while I have seen, in more than one instance, 
men honoured with the conunand of a regiment for heading 
mobs. Well : with this, I believe, I have troubled you long 
enou^. Pray, say you, what is it to me why you have 
not been in the army ? Why, nothing, my dear firiend ; but 
it is something to me. You know, my dear Burr, I love 
you, or I should not submit such nonsense to your perusal. 

If Mr. Swift still lives, give him my best compliments. 
Pamela desires me to tell you she loves you. . Answer this 
letter, and thereby oblige 

Your sincere friend, 

Theodore Sedgwick. 

FROM colonel M. OODEN. 

TkondeiQga, July 26lli, 1776. 

Dear Burr, 

I have been waiting with the greatest impatience to 
know what is doing in York and Jersey. There are twenty 
different reports, that contradict each other, relative to 
Howe and his fleet. It has once been generally believed 
that a French fleet had arrived at New-York, and blocked 
up the British army. Independence is well relished in 
this part of the world. Generalship is now dealt out to the 
army by our worthy and well-esteemed general. Gates, who 
is putting the most disordered army that ever bore the 
name into a state of regularity and defence. If our friends 
in Canada, commanded by Burgoyne, will wait a few days, 
we shall give them a very proper reception. 

The army are beginning to recruit fast, from the effects 
kA a little fresh meat, and some rum, when on fatigue. 


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Aged 20. ifSMoiRS of aabon burr* 96 

Ten days ago there were not in our regiment eighty men 
fit for duty. We have now upwards of two hundred and 
thirty ; and, in a few days, they will be all as rugged as 
New-Jersey is firm. 

Colonel Winds is sent home on a fool's errand by the 
general, that he may be out of the way of doing any more 
harm to the regiment. The general assures me that I shall 
not be troubled with him again. I suppose, by that, he has 
written to have him detained below. A short history of this 
man will convince you that he ought to be nowhere but on 
his farm. He, in the first place, is a professed enemy to 
subordination, and has an utter aversion to discipline. He 
is positive, and prefers his own opinion to even the general's, 
because he was in the service last war. He is not possess- 
ed of one qualification that distinguishes a gentleman, nor 
has he genius or education. His whole study is to gain the 
applause of the private soldiers, at the expense of every offi- 
cer in the regiment. He is hated by all his own officers 
except twOy and despised by every gentleman in the army. 

We are in great want of brigadier-generals — ^three, at 
least. I mean for the men that are now here. General Ar- 
nold wiU command the water-craft on the lake in person. 
There are three brigades, commanded by the colonels, Reed, 
Stark, and St. Clair. The last of these I sincerely wish 
was appointed a brigadier by Congress. There is no better 
man ; the other two have full enough already. 

Please to fprward the enclosed, with the letter to Mr. 
Spencer. My best respects to Generals Putnam^ Greene, 
and Mifflin, and to Colonel Trumbull. Compliments to 
Webb. I wait, with the greatest impatience, some impor- 
tant news from New-York. Pray vmte particulars relative 
to the conduct of the Jerseymen. Should any fall, mention 
their names. 

I am yours sincerely, 

• Matt. Ogdbn. 


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New-York, 10th of August, 1T76. 

Dbar Uncle, 

I have received your letters from Stockbridge, with my 
watch, for which I thank you. Our six galleys which went 
up the North river attacked the British ships. They beha- 
ved well, but were drove off with the loss of three killed 
and twelve or thirteen wounded. A second attack is pro* 
posed. Vessels and chevaux-de-frises are sunk in the 
North river. The channel is said to be effectually stopped. 
We are endeavouring the same in the East river. The 
British fleet have been largely re-enforced at different times. 
They are now said to be upwards of two hundred sail vrithin 
the Narrows. They have drawn up seven of their heaviest 
ships in a Une, nearly two miles advanced of the rest. 

By two Virginia gentlemen who went to England to take 
the gown, who returned in a packet and landed on Staten 
Island, where they tarried several days, and were permitted 
to cross to Elizabethtown on Thursday last, we have some 
intelligence of the enemy. Clinton hfts arrived with his 
shattered fleet and about 3600 men. By this it appears 
that he has either fallen in with part of Dunmore's fleet, or 
picked up the remainder of his own, which had been sep- 
arated, and were not in the action near Charlestown. Of 
the Hessians only 1300 or 1400 have arrived. The re- 
mainder, about 9000, are daily expected. They were left 
near the banks of Newfoundland. Those already here are 
not much esteemed as soldiers. 

The king's land-army is at present about 15 or 16,000 
strong. They expect very soon to exceed 25,000. They 
have taken on board all their heavy cannon from Staten Isl- 
and, and have called in several of their outposts. Thirty 
transports have sailed under convoy of three frigates. They 
are to come through the Sound, and thus invest us by the 
North and East rivers. They are then to land on both sides 


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Aged 20.] JinoiRS of ajlron burr. 97 

of the island, join their forces^ and draw a line acrosg^ 
which will hem us in and totally cut off all communication^ 
after which they will have their own fun. 

These Viiginia gentlemen lodged in a house with several 
king's officers. They hold us in the utmost contempt. Talk 
of forcing all our lines without firing a gun. The bayonet 
is their pride. They have forgot Bunker's Hill. 

Your nephew, 

A. Burr. 


Tiooiidnoga, August llUi, 177& 

Dear Burr, 

I yesterday recciyed yours of July 29th and August 2d. 
The others I made mention of in the letter to Mrs. Ogden 
that I sent to you imsealed. In my last you had a very par- 
ticular account of the numbers, force, names, &c., of our 
navy on the lake. As to our leaving Crownpoint for this 
place, the field-officers knew nothing of it till it was conclu- 
ded on by the generals, Schuyler, Gates, and Arnold. 

General Arnold is taking a very active part, I mean in the 
command of the fleet. He will sail himself in a few days. 
He says he will pay a visit to St. Johns. I wish he may be 
as prudent as he is brave. Well, now have at you for news. 
Last evening the flag of truce returned, bringing a letter di»> 
tected to George Washington, Esq., and a truly ridiculous 
copy of a general order, which you will see at General 
Washington's by the time you receive this. But there is 
one part of it in which I think they, in some measure, ac 
cuse us justly. I mean that of assassinating, as ^ey term 
it widi too much truth. Brigadier-general Gordon. He was 
shot by the Whitcomb I mentioned in my last, who had 
been sent there as a spy. The iu:t, though villanous, was 
brave, and a pecuUar kind of bravery, that, I believe, Whit- 
comb alone is possessed of. He shot Gordon near by their 
advanced sentinel; and, notwithstanding a most diligent 

Vol. I.— N 5 


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search was made^ he avoided them by mere dint of skulk'^ 

I shall have the honour to conmiand the New-Jersey re- 
doubt, which I am now building with the regiment alone. 
It is situated on the right of the whole, by the water's edge. 
It is to mount two eighteen-pounders, two twelve, and four 
nine-pounders. In this I expect to do honour to New-Jersey. 
I yesterday received a letter from Colonel Dayton, dated the 
26th of July, at the German Flats. He informs me that he 
is to t£^e the conunand at Fort Stanwix. 

Should there be any thing to be had in New-York in the 
clothing way, should be glad if you will lay some aside, no 
matter what — either small-clothes, shirts, stockings, or any 
thing of the kind. My best compliments to General Put- 
nam. If you will let Robert or Sawyer have the perusal of 
this, they would learn the news of this army. Paper is so 
scarce, that one letter must serve both, unless something 

Yours sincerely, 

Matt. Ooden. 

At this time Major-general Greene had the conunand on 
Long Island, but his health was so bad that it became ne- 
cessary for him to resign it. The conunander-in-chief or- 
dered General Putnam to assume the command. Major 
Burr was his aid-de-camp. The landing of the British had 
been previously effected on the 22d of August, 1776, with- 
out opposition, near Utrecht and Gravesend, on the south- 
west end of the island. Thie American troops, less than 
12,000, were encamped on the north of Brooklyn heights. 
The British force, including Hessians, was more than 20,000 
strong. The armies were separated by a range of hills, at 
that time covered with wood, called the Heights of Gowan-^ 
nus. Major Burr immediately commenced an inspection of 
the troops, and made to the general a most unfavourable re- 
port, both as to their means of defence and their discipline. 


ized by Google 

Aged 20.] MEMOIRS of julron burr. 99 

The major proposed, however, several enterprises for beating 
up the quarters of the enemy. To all which General Put- 
nam replied, that his orders were not to make any attack, but 
to act on the defensive only. 

On the 27th the action was fought. The loss of the 
Americans, in killed, wounded, and prisoners, was about 
1000. That of the British, less than 360. The Ameri- 
cans were driven within the works which they had thrown 
up. Major Burr, previous to the action, had expressed to 
General Putnam the opinion that a battle ought not to be 
risked; and that much was to be gained by placing the 
troops in a position where the navy of the enemy would not 
be so serviceable to them. 

On the 28th, the British advanced in column to within 500 
or 600 yards of the American works. General Robinson, 
who commanded a portion of the enemy, represents, in his 
parliamentary examination, that they approached much 
nearer. The American troops were formed in line to re- 
ceive them ; but gave such indications of alarm, that Major 
Burr rode to General Putnam, and informed him that he had 
no hope the men would stand more than a single fire before 
they retreated. No attack, however, was made. Burr con- 
tinued to urge upon General Putnam and Mifflin (the latter 
of whom came over on that day from New- York) the neces- 
sity of a retreat. During the night of the 28th, General 
Mifflin went the rounds, and observed the forwardness of the 
enemy's batteries, and, on the morning of the 29th, pressed 
upon General Washington an immediate retreat. A council 
was held, and the opinion of Mifflin unanimously adopted. 

The embarcation of the troops was committed to General 
M*Dougall. He was at Brooklyn Ferry by eight o'clock. 
In the early part of the night, the weather was very unfa- 
vourable ; but about eleven o'clock every thing was propi- 
tious. A thick fog ensued, and continued until the whole 
army, 9000 in number, with all the field artillery, ordnance, 
&c., were safely landed in New-York. Major Burr was at 


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loo Mnoims of aa&on btoe. [Aged 20« 

Brooklyn. Here General M'DougaU had an q^rtimity of 
noticing his efficiency. His reputation for talents and intre^ 
pidity had previously reached the ears of the general. From 
this night, the 29th of August, 1776, until Major Burr re- 
tired from the army, he possessed the entire confidence and 
esteem of General M*Dougall. Subsequent events, as will 
hereafter appear, tended to strengthen and confirm the cor- 
rectness of those prepossessions, thus formed in the hour of 
peril, and in the midst of the most appalling dangers. 

The situation of General Washington, after retreating from 
Long Island, was very distressing. The defeat which the 
Americans had experienced produced consternation and 
alarm in the ranks of a raw, inexperienced, and undisci- 
plined army. In addition to other discouraging circum- 
stances, within a few days after the retreat, nearly one fourth 
of the troops were on the sick-list. Colonel Glover says 
that the commander-in-chief divided his army, posting 12,000 
at Kingsbridge, 6500 at Harlem, and 4500 in &e city of 

On Sunday, the 16th of September, 1776, General Howe, 
as commander-in-chief of the British forces, landed on Man- 
hattan (New-York) Island. General Washington had pre- 
viously made the necessary arrangements, and given orders 
for the troops to evacuate the city and retire to Harlem, dis- 
tant about seven miles. The descent of the British created 
an alarm in the American ranks, and produced no inconsid- 
erable degree of confusion in the retreat. By some unac- 
countable mismanagement. General Silliman's brigade was 
left in New-York, and conducted by General Knox to a small 
fort then in the suburbs, and known as Bunker's Hill. Major 
Burr having been despatched, at his own request, with a few 
dragoons, by General Putnam, to pick up the stragglers, dis- 
covered the error which had been committed, and galloping 
up to the fort, inquired who commanded. General Knox 
presented himself. Major Burr desired him to retreat im- 
mediately, or the whole brigade would be cut off and sacri- 


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ficed. G^oieral Knox replied, that a retreat^ thus in the ho& 
of the enemy, was impracticable, and that he intended to de«p^ 
fend the fort. Burr remarked, that it was not bcmib-proof ; 
that it was destitute of water ; and that he could take it with 
a single howitzer ; and then, addressing himself to the men, 
said, that if they remained there, one half of them would be 
killed or wounded, and the other half hung, like dogs, be- 
fore night ; Iwit, if they wo^d place themselves under his 
command, he woxM conduct them in safiety to Harlem. 
Burr's charactet for intrepidity and military skill was al- 
ready so well established, that they determined to follow 
him. In the retreat they had some skirmishing, but met 
with very little loss in eflfeqting their union with the main 
body of the army. The following documents, furnished by 
officers in Silliman's brigade, contain the details. 


Fairfield, (Conn.)>29th January, 1814. 

In answer to the inquiries relatmg to the eyacuation of 
New-York, in 1776, I can only observe, but few persons 
who were present, and eyewitnesses of the evenly are now 
liying in this part of the country. I find, however, the Rev. 
Doctor Ripley, a gentleman of eminent respectability, and 
Messrs. Wakeman and Jennings, respectable citizens of this 
town, now living, who belonged to the brigade of the late 
General Silliman, the information of which gentlemen on any 
subject can be relied on, and will be no otherwise than cor- 
rect, however prejudice or other cause might occasion a re- 
luctance in disclosing the information in their power to give ; 
yet duty impelled their narrative, and the ne^ectirig an op- 
portunity to give evidence of noble acts and unrewarded 
worth they consider ingratitude. In preference to commu* 
nicating to you by way of letter concerning transactions of 
BO long standing as the year 1776, 1 desired the enclosed cer- 
tificates, which the gentlemen freely gave, in order to pre- 





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102 MSM0IR8 OF AARON BURR. [Aged 20. 

rent any misconfttruction by passing through a second hand, 
by which you will haye more correct information than pos- 
sibly in my power to giro. 

Very respectfully yours, &c. 

Samuel Rowland. 

Certificate of the Rev. Hezelciah Ripley* 
On being inquired of by Samuel Rowland, Esq., of Fair-* 
field town and county, in the State of Connecticut^ relative 
to my knowledge and recollection respecting the merits of 
Colonel Aaron Burr as an officer and soldier in the late rev- 
olutionary war between the United States and Great Brit- 
ain, can certify as follows : — 

Hezekiah Ripley, of said Fairfield, doth certify, that on or 
about the fifteenth day of September, 1776, I was the offi- 
ciating chaplain of the brigade then commanded by Gen. 
Gold S. Silliman. From mismanagement of the command- 
ing officer, that brigade was unfortunately left in the city of 
New- York, and at the time before mentioned. While the 
brigade was in firont, and myself considerably in the rear, I 
was met by the late General Putnam, deceased, who then in- 
formed me of the landing of the enemy above us, and that I 
must make my escape on the west side of the island. 
Whereupon I on foot crossed the lots to the west side of 
the island, unmolested excepting by the fire firom the ships 
^\'.^ \ of the British, which at that time lay in the North river. 
>^ \ How the brigade escaped, I was not an eyewitness ; but 
\ well recollect, from the information I then had firom General 
- %^ I Chandler (now deceased), then acting as a colonel in said 
\^'^ I brigade, that Mr. Burr's exertions, bravery, and good con- 
<^^w ^^^^ ^^^ ^^ principal means of saving the whole of that 
Cj*^ ^ ^brigade from falling into the hands of the enemy^ and whose 
conduct was then by all ccmsidered judicious and merito- 

But, however, I well recollect, before I had the informa- 
tion alluded to from General Chandler, I had seen Mr. Burr, 



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Aged 20.] MEMOIRS of aaron burr. 103 

snd inquired of him how the brigade had made their escape, 
who then told me the particulars, which were afterwards con- 
firmed by all the officers ; who were all of o{Hnion that, had 
it not been for him, they would not have effected their re- 
treat and escape. 

As to my own opinion of the management of the troops 
on leaving New- York, I then, and still suppose, as did Gen- 
eral Chandler, that Colonel Burr's merits there as a young 
officer ought, and did, claim much attention, and whose offi- 
cial duties as an aid-de-camp on that memorable day justly 
claimed the thanks of the army and his country. 


Certificate from Isaac Jennings and Andrew Wakeman. 
Being requested by Samuel Rowland, Esq., to give infor- 
mation relative to the evacuation of New-York, in the year 
lT76,by the American army, we, the subscribers, then act- 
ing, one in the capacity of a lieutenant, and the other as a pri- 
vate, in the brigade commanded by the late General Silli- 
man, now deceased, do certify. That on the fifteenth day of 
September (being on the Lord's day), the British landed on 
the east side of the island, about four miles above the city. 
The American troops retreated the same day to Harlem 
heights. By some misapprehension of the orders, or firom^ 
other causes unknown to us, our brigade was left, and was 
taken by General Knox to Bunker's Hill,* a small fort (so 
called) about a mile firom tovim. The fort was scarcely able 
to hold us all. We had but just got into the fort, when 
Aaron Burr, then aid-de-camp to General Putnam, rode up 
and inquired who commanded there. General Knox pre-r 
sented himself, and Burr (then called Major Burr) asked the 
general what he did diere ? And why he did not retreat with 
the army ? The general repUed, that it was impossible to 
retreat, as the enemy were across the island, and that hq 

♦ Adjacent to wlytt if now Graud-Btreet 


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./*\ - 

ut,:*?^. lb *M^ -u o«^. ■ i* 





[Aged SO. 

meant to defend that fort. Major Burr ridiculed the idea of 
defending the place, being, as he said, without provisions, or 
water, or bonJ>-proaf ; and that, with one ^iCMrtar, (x one 
howitzer, the enemy would take the place in four hours, or 
in some very short time, and again urged General Knox to 
retreat to Harlem heights; but General Elnox said it would 
be madness to attempt it. A smart debate ensued, the gen* 
eral adhering to his opinion. Burr addressed himself to the 
men, and told them that, if they remained there, they would 
before night be all prisoners, and crammed into a dungeon,, 
or hung like dogs. He engaged to lead them off, and ob« 
served that it would be better that one half should be killed 
in fighting, than all be sacrificed in that cowardly manner. 
The men agreed to follow him, and he led them out ; he 
and his two attendants riding on the right flank. About four 
miles from town we were fired upon by a party of the ene- 
my. Burr galloped directly to the spot the firing came firom, 
hallooing to the men to follow him. It proved to be only 
a guard of about a company of the enemy, who immediately 
fled. Burr and his horsemen pursued and killed several d[ 
them. While he was thus employed, the head of a column 
had taken a wrong road. Burr came up and hurried us to 
the left, into a wood, and rode along the column from froitf 
no rear, encouraging the men, and led 41s out to the maia 
army with very small loss. 

The coolness, deliberation, and valour displayed by Ma- 
jor Burr in effecting a safe retreat, without material loss, 
and his meritorious services to the army on that day, rendered 
him an object of peculiar respect firom the troops, and the 
particular notice of the officers. 

Isaac Jbnnikos. 

ANimsw Wakbman. 


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Aged 20.] 




Albany, 10th February, 1814, 

I have received your letter, with the preceding statement, 
respecting our retreat from New-York Island, in Septem^ 
ber, 1776, and, in compliance with your request, I have to 
reply, that the relation made by Mr. Wakeman and Mr, 
Jennings corresponds with my recollection. I was near 
Colonel Burr when he had the dispute with General Knox, 
who said it was madness to think of retreating, as we should 
meet the whole British army. Colonel Burr did not address 
himself to the laacn, but to the officers, who had most of them 
gathered around to hear what passed, as we considered our- 
selves as lost. But Colonel ftirr seemed so confident that 
he could make good a retreat, and made it clear that we 
were all lost if we stayed there, that we all agreed to tru«tj 
to his conduct and ccmrage^ though it did appear to us a most 
desperate undertaking ; and he did not disappoint us, for he 
effected a retreat with the i/Aole brigade ; and I do not think 
we lost more than thirty men. We had several brushea 
vrith small parties of the enemy. Colonel Burr was fore- 
most and most active where there was danger, and his con- 
duct, without considering his extreme youth, was afterwards 
a constant subject of praise, and admiration, and gratitude, / 
This affair was much talked of in the army after the sur- I 
render of Fort Washington, in which a garrison of about 
2600 men was left under circumstances very similar to 
ours ; this fort having no bomb-prwf. That garrison sur-. 
rendered, as is well known, the very samfe day our army 
retreated; and of those 2600 men, not 600 survived the 
imprisonment they received from the British, I have, since 
then, heard it repeated hundr:eds of times by the officers and 
men of Silliman's brigade, that our fate would have been the 
same had it not been for Colonel Burr, I was a sergeant'. 
. Vol. L— 5* 


A ^ 




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major in Chandler's regiment of Silliman's brigade at the 
time of the retreat. 

I am your very obedient servant, 

Nathaniel Judson. 


As early as the 10th of August, Burr, in a letter to his 
uncle Edwards,* expressed apjMrehensions that the retreat 
of the American army from Long Island might be cut off, 
and then that the British "woiUd have their own fun." 
From that period until the retreat was effected, on the 
night of the 27th, he continued to entertain the same opin- 
ion as to the necessity of retreating. So, also, in relation 
to the city of New-York. He thought no attempt should 
be made to hold it. Subsequent events proved his good 
sense and foresight, as well as his military genius. The 
city was abandoned on the 1 5th of September. Ten days 
after he writes to his aunt Edwards, in reply to a despond- 
ing letter he had received from her, his views of the recent 
movements of the American army. 


KiBgsbridge, 26th September, I776-. 

My DEAR Aunt, 
I fear, madam, you give yourself needless anxiety about 
the situation of public affairs. It has been always held a 
maxim that our island and seaport towns were at the dis- 
cretion of the tjrrant of Great Britain. Reasons for the re- 
treat from Long Island are well known. The evacuation 

* See page 97. 


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Aged 20.] MEMOIRS of aaron burr. 107 

of New- York was a necessary consequence. The maimer 
of conducting these made present advantages but trifling to 
the enemy. The loss to us is of still less importance ; and, 
indeed, some happy consequences resulting from the man<» 
OBUvres appear to me worthy of notice. 

We have hitherto opposed them vrith less than half their 
number, and exposed to all their advantages of shipping. 
Our force is now more united, theirs more divided. Our 
present situation renders their navy of less service to them, 
and less formidable to us ; — a circumstance of vast impor* 
tance, and to which I attribute all that has heretofore ap- 
peared in their favour. Add to these, besides confirming 
our internal union, the effect that every appearance of suc-» 
cess on the part of the enemy has upon our leading men. 
It arouses them from the lethargy which began to prevail ; 
convinces them that their measures are unequal to their 
grand designs ; that the present is the important moment, 
and that every nerve must now be exerted. 

This is not altogether fanciful. It has been actually the 
case. More effectual measures than were ever before 
thought of are now taking for levying a new army. A 
committee of Congress are on the spot vrith us to know 
all our wants, and report them properly, that they may be 
speedily provided for. I do not intend by this, my dear 
aunt, to deceive you into an opinion that every thing is 
already entirely secure ; that we are now actually relieved 
from every degree of danger ; but to remove your appre-i 
hensions concerning the important events which depend on 
our military exertions. I hope, madam, you will continue, 
with your usual philosophy and resolution, prepared for 
the uncertain events of war, not anticipating improbable 

Various have been the reports concerning the barbarities 
eommitted by the Hessians, most of them incredible and 
false, They are fonder of plunder than blood; and arQ 


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[Aged 20. 

more the engines than the authors of cruelty. But their 

y\ behaviour has been in some instances sarage, and might 

S' excuse a fear, if reckoned among usual calamities; but 

these should be viewed on a larger scale than that of com- 

\/ mon complaisance. It should be remembered we are en« 

'^^ g&g^d in a civil war, and effecting the most important 

revolution that ever took place. How little of the horrors 

\ of either have we known ! Fire or the sword have scarce 

I left a trace among us. We may be truly called a favoured 

\ people. 

j I have been not so engaged as common for a short time 
past, and have liberty of remaining, for three or four days, 
about two miles from camp, from whence I now write 
you, a little more at leisure ; but I am now within drum- 
call Your nephew, 

A. BvaiL. 

After the abandonment of Manhattan Island by the 
American army, and some fighting in Westchester, General 
Washington crossed the North river with a part of the 
troops, and retreated through New-Jersey. The move- 
ments of Lord Comwallis left no doubt that the object of 
the British general was Philadelphia. He advanced rapidly 
from Brunswick upon Princeton, hoping, by farced marches, 
to get in the rear of the Americans. On the 8th of Decem- 
ber, 1776, Washington crossed the Delaware, secured the 
boats, and broke down the teidges. Great apprehension 
and alarm fw the safety of Philadelphia now existed. 
Judge Marshall, in his Life of Washingtcm, says, 

" In consequence of this state of things, the general ad- 
vised that lines of defence should be drawn from the 
Schuylkill, about the heights of Springatsbury, eastward to 
the Delaware, and General Putnam was cNrtkred to super- 
intend them.'' Major Burr was now actively engaged as 
the aid-de-camp of General Putnam, whose esteem and un* 


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Aged 20.] 



bounded confidaice he continued to enjoy. He writes Col- 
onel Ogden, 

FrincetoD, 7tii March, 1777. 

Dear Matt., 

I this evening received your letter of yesterday's date, 
by Stockton. I knew not how to direct to you, nor where 
to send for the horsb, or should have done it sooner. I do 
not perfectly recollect the one you mention, but should be 
glad of any on your recommendation. Both boots and a 
saddle I want much, and shall be obliged to you to procure 
them for me ; — ^good leather would suit me as well as boots 
ready made. I have not had a pair worth sixpence since 
tho;se I had at Ehzabethtown. 

As to " expectations of promotion," I have not the least, ^ 
either in the line or the staff. You need not express any ] \ 
surprise at it, as I have never made any application, and, as jl 
you know me, you know I never shall. I diould have |\ 
been fond of a berth in a regiment, as we proposed when I 
last saw you. But, as I am at present happy in the esteem 
and entire confidence of my good old general, I shall be 
piqued at no neglect, unless particularly pointed, 0£ where 
silence would be want of spirit. 'Tis true, indeed, my for- 
mer equals, and even inferiors in rank, have left me. As^ 
surances from those in power I have had unasked, and in 
abundance ; but of these I shall never remind them. We 
fure not to judge of our own merit, and I am content to con- 
tribute my mite in any station. )ic 

I shall probably be at Morris within ten days, on pub* 
lie business. Write me whether I noay expect you there. 
With sincere love to Mrs. Ogden, 


A. Burr. 

In the spring of 17T7, a new army was to be raised. For 
political reasons it was deemed expedient to select, where 





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it could be done with propriety, for the colonels of regi-' 
ments, gentlemen supposed to have an influence. Among 
those who were thus selected was Colonel Malcolm, for- 
merly a merchaht in the city of New-York. He was 
highly respectable, and universally esteemed, but was not 
a military man. In June, 1777, Burr was appointed lieu 
tenant-colonel of his regiment; but he did not receive 
official notice of the fact until the 26th of July. 

On the 14th of July, 1T77, General Putnam's head- 
quarters being then at Peekskill, he issued the following 
order : — 

By the Honourable Major-general Putnam^ 

To Major Aaron Burr^ Aid-de-camp. 

Pursuant to orders received from his excellency General 
Washington, you are forthwith to repair to Norwalk, Fiair- 
field, and the places adjacent on the Sound, transmit me 
without delay the inteUigence you shall from time to time 
receive of the movements of the enemy, or any of their 
fleets. Request of the committees, or select-men of the 
difierent towns, that they will be very punctual in reporting 
to the commanding officer at this post whatever may in 
any respect relate to the movements of the army, as both 
their safety and the welfare of the country may be promoted 
by their diligence in this particular. 

On your return, which will be through Litchfield, you 
will leave orders for all detachments of any regiments of 
General Nixon's brigade to take the most direct route to 
Albany, provided they be farther than thirty miles from this 
place, as much will be saved, and fatigue avoided by the 
observance of this. 

Having settled a hne of inteUigence from the different 
towns on the coast, and left the necessary directions for the 
detachments of Brigadier-general Nixon's brigade, you will 
return with all convenient speed to this plac«. 


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Given under my hand, at headquarters, Peekskill, 14th 
day of July, 1T77. 

Israel Putnam. 

This was the last order that Major Burr ever received 
as the aid-de-camp of his ''good old general." On his re- 
turn to camp he received, in the usual form, a letter from 
General Washington, announcing to him his appointment as 
lieutenant-colonel in the Continental Army, to which he 

Peekskill, 21st July, 1777. 


I was this morning favoured with your excellency's letter 
of the 29th ult., and my appointment to Colonel Malcolm's 
regiment. Am truly sensible of the honour done me, and 
shall be studious that my deportment in that station be such 
as vrill ensure your future esteem. I am nevertheless, sir, 
constrained to observe, that the late date of my appointment 
subjects me to the command of many who were younger in 
the service, and junior officers the last campaign. 

With submission, and if there is no impropriety in request- 
ing what so nearly concerns me, I would beg to know wheth- 
er it was any misconduct in me, or any extraordinary merit 
or services in them, which entitled the gentlemen lately put 
over me to that preference ? Or, if a uniform diligence 
and attention to duty has marked my conduct since the 
formation of the army, whether I may not expect to be 
restored to that rank of which I have been deprived, rather, 
I flatter myself, by accident than design ? * I would vrish 
equally to avoid the character of turbulent or passive, and 
am uriiappy to have troubled your excellency with a matter 
which concerns only myself. But, as a decent regard to 
rank is both proper and necessary, I hope it will be ex- 
cused in one who regards his honour next to the welfare ofj 
his country. 

I am not yet acquainted with the state of. the regiment, 





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112 MEMOUUB OF AARON BUftB. [Aged 21. 

or the prospect of filling it ; but shall innnediately repair to 
rendezvous and receive Colonel Malcolm's directions. 
I have the honour to be, vnth great respect, 

Your excellency's obedient servant, 

A. BuiuL 

Colonel Malcolm's regiment was at this time staticHied at 
Ramapo, or the Clove, in Orange county, New-York, 
whither Lieutenant-colcmel Burr proceeded. On presenting 
himself, the colonel was greatly surprised. The youthful 
aj^earance of Burr led him to apprehend that he would be 
wanting in judgment and discretion ; but a very short ac- 
quaintance removed these impressions. Malcolm retired 
with his family about twenty miles distant, leaving Burr in 
command, kindly remarking — " You shall have all the hon- 
our of disciplining and fighting the regiment, while I vnll 
be its father ;" and he kept his word, for it is believed that 
he never commanded it in batde during the whole war, 
although it was frequently engaged. This duty devolved 
upon Colonel Burr. 

In September, 1777, the British came out of the city of 
New-York, on the west side of the Hudson river, about 
2000 strong, for the purpose of plimdering and devastating 
the adjacent country, and capturing the public stores. 
Colonel Burr was with his regiment, distant about thirty 
noiles, when he heard of the enemy, and yet he was in their 
camp, and captured or destroyed their picket-guards before 
the next morning. For two days and nights he never slept. 
His regular force did not exceed three hundred men ; Iwit,. 
by surprising the British sentinels, he struck constematioa 
into their ranks, and they fled with precipitation, leaving 
behind them their plunder and a part of their stores. The 
following letters afford ample details : — 


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Aged 21.] HXMoiKS OP JU9Lm bora. 113 

Statement of Judge George Gardner^ dated 

^•wbiiiYh, 20Ui December, 1813. 

In September, 1777, the regiment called Malcdm's re- 
giment lay at SufiBren's, in the Clove, under the ccnnmand of 
Lieutenant-colonel Burr Intelligence having been received 
that the enemy were in Hackensack in great force, and ad- 
vancing into the country, Colonel Burr immediately marched 
with the effective men, except a guard to take care of the 
camp. I understood that while we were on the march, an 
officer arrived express from Major-general Putnam, who 
commanded at Peekskill, recommending or ordering Colonel 
Burr to retire with the public stores to the mountains : to 
which Colonel Burr replied, that he could not run away 
from an enemy whom he had not seen, and that he would 
be answerable for the public stores and for his men. 

We arrived at Paramus, a distance of sixteen miles, be- 
fore sunset. There were considerable bcklies of militia, in 
great alarm and disorder, and doing much mischief to the 
neighbouring farms. They could give no inteUigence of 
the enemy but from rumour. Supposed them to be within a 
few miles, and advancing. 

Colonel Burr set scHne of the miUtia to repair the fences 
they had destroyed, and arranged them as well as time 
would permit ; and having taken measures to secure the 
troops from surprise, and also for the protection of the corn- 
fields, he marched immediately, with about thirty of the most 
active of the regiment, and a few of the miUtia, to ascertain 
the position and numbers of the enemy. About ten o'clock 
at night, being three miles from Hackensack, we got cer- 
tain intelligence that we were within a mile of the picket- 
guards of the ^[lemy. Colonel Burr then led the men into 
a wood, and ordered them to sleep till he should awake 
them, of which we had great need, having marched more 
than thirty miles since noon. C<donel Burr then went alone 
to discover the position of the enemy. He returned about 

Vol. L— P 


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[Aged 21. 



half an hour before day and waked us, and told us that he 
was going to attack the picket of the enemy. That we had 
only to follow him, and then forbid any man to speak or to 
fire, on pain of death. He led us between the sentinels in 
such a way that we were within a few yards of the picket- 
guard before they suspected our approach. He then gave 
the word, and we rushed upon them before they had time 
to take their arms, and the greater part were killed. A few 
prisoners and some accoutrements were brought off without 
the loss of one man. Colonel Burr immediately sent off an 
express to Paramus, to order all the troops to move, and to 
rally the country. Our httle success had so encouraged the 
inhabitants, that they turned out with great alacrity, and put 
themselves under the command of Colonel Burr. But the 
enemy, probably alarmed by these threatening appearances, 
retreated the next day, leaving behind them the greater part 
of the cattle and plunder which they had taken. Colonel 
Burr was prevented from pursuing, by peremptory orders, 
which were received the day following the action, to join, 
without delay, the main army, then in Pennsylvania. 

I served in this regiment all the time it was under the 
command of Colonel Burr, being about two years; after 
which he was called to take a separate conunand in West- 
chester. During the whole time he never permitted corpo- 
ral punishment to be inflicted in a single instance ; yet no 
regiment in the army was under better discipline, and I 
doubt whether it was equalled by any one. 

George Gardner. 


New.York, 22d Jannuy, 1814. 


I have understood that an application will be made to the 
legislature by or on behalf of Colonel Burr, for remuneration 
for his miUtary services during our revolutionary war. 


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Having had the happiness to serve under him for more 
than two years, and having retaiived an unbounded respect 
for his talents and character, you will pardon me for asking 
your active support of any thing which may be moved in 
his favour ; for certainly, if any officer of the army deserved 
recompense, it is Colonel Burr. 

He sacrificed his health, and underwent more fatigue and 
privations than any other officer of whom I had any knowl- 
edge. If I thought it could be useful to him or amusing to 
you, I would enter into details ; but the facts are of general 
notoriety, and his superiority as a military man, as far as 
my knowledge extends, universally allowed. 
. I will however detain you while I relate a single inci- 
dent, because it was the first of which I was a vritness. I 
was attached as a cadet to Colonel Malcolm's regiment, then 
stationed in the Clove, when Burr joined it as lieutenant- 
colonel, being in the smnmer of 1777. Malcolm, seeing 
that his presence ^as unnecessajy while Burr was there> 
was with his family about twenty miles distant. Early in 
September, we heard that the enemy were out in great 
force. Burr gave orders for the security of the camp and 
of the public stores, and within one hour after news was re- 
ceived, marched with the choice of the regiment to find the 
enemy. At Paramus the militia were assembled in cout 
siderable force, but in great disorder and terror. No onci 
could tell the force or position of the enemy. Burr assumedl 
the command, to which they submitted cheerfully, as he 
alone (though but a boy in appearance) seemed to know 
what he was about. He arrailged and encouraged them as 
well as time would permit, and, taking a few of the most 
hardy of the men, continued his march towards the enemy. 
Two or three miles this side Hackensack, we learned that we 
were near the enemy's advanced guard. Burr chose a con- 
venient place for the men to repose, and went himself to ex- 
amine the position of the enemy. A little before daylight 
he retumedi waked us, and ordered us to follow him. He 






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[Aged 21. 

kd us silently and undiscoyered within a few paces ci the 
ftitish guard, which we took or killed. From the prisoners 
we learned that the enemy were about two thousand strong. 
Without loss of time he sent expresses with orders to the 
militia, and to call out the country ; and I have no doubt 
but he would, within forty-eight hours, have had an army 
capable of checking the progress of the enemy, and of i»e- 
venting or impeding their retreat ; but they retreated the day 
following, and with every mark of jwrecipitation. During 
these two days and nights the colonel did not lie down or 
take a minute*s repose. Thus you perceive, my dear sir, 
that Burr, being more than thirty miles distant when he 
heard of the enemy, was in their camp the same night. 
You will agree with me that things are not done so nowa* 

Similar instances of activity and enterprise occurred in 
each (rf the four campaigns he served, and very firequently, 
during the winter, be c^smanded on d|p lines of West- 
chester. I repeat, that it will afibrd me pleasure to relate 
so much of these things as came to my own knowledge, if 
it would be of any use. 

Malcolm was never a mimth with the regiment after Burr 
joined it ; so that it was Burr who formed it, and it was a 
model {(X the whole army in discipline and order. He 
never, in a single instance, permitted any corporal punish- 

His attention and care of the men were such as I never 
saw, nor any thing approaching to it, in any other officer, 
though I served under many. It would be a disgrace to 
the country if such a man should be denied a liberal com- 
<^ \ pensation, when it is too well known that he stands in need 

I shall consider myself as persfmally oUiged by your ex- 
ertions in his favour, and h<^ your coQeagues irill add 
theirs to yours. 





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Jlged21.] UEU^iM or AJLRim WKSL. 117 

Hease to show this letter to your colleagues, and to offisr 
them my respects. 

I am, very respectfully, 

Your obedient servant, 

Robert Hunter. 

The original order to join the main army in Pennsylvania, 
to which Judge Gardner refers in the preceding statement, 
is found among the papers of Colonel Burr, and is as fol- 
lows : — 

Headquarters, Peekakill, 27th September, 1777. 

I have just received a letter from General WashingUm, dated 
thirty-four miles up Sckuylkilly wherein he informs me that 
General Howe's army had found means to cross Schuylkill 
several miles below his army ; upon which he has ordered 
a further re-enforcement from this post, of which corps you 
must join. You will therefore, upon the receipt of this, pre- 
pare to join General Parsons's brigade, whom I have or- 
dered up from the White Plains. I shall endeavour to send 
some miliUa to guard the stores remaining in the Clove. 
Your baggage must go with you. 

I am, sir, your very humble servant, 

Israel Putnam, M. G. 

Immediately after Colonel Burr had surprised and cap- 
tured the British guard, he received various compUmentary 
notes from officers of the army requesting details. A short 
extract from one is given. 

PericduU, 20th September, 1777. 

Dear Sir, 
I congratulate you upon the good fortune you met vrith 
in taking off the enemy's picket. We have had various ac- 


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118 MBMons OF AAR^ BUER. [Aged 21. 

counts about the maimer in which you executed the plan. 
The particulars I should be glad to hear friHti yourself. 

YourSy &c. 

T. Yatbs. 
To Lieutenant-colonel A. Burr. 

Colonel Burr, with his accustomed promptitude, as soon 
as he received the orders of Major-general Putnam, put his 
regiment in motion. On the second day of his march he 
received from General Vamum the following, directed to 
Lieutenant-colonel Burr, on his march to Morristown. 

Cakeat, October 1ft, ITTT. 

I this moment received your favour of this date. The 
enemy have landed at Fowler's Hook in ^eat force. I am 
apprehensive they mean attacking Fort Montgomery by the 
way of the Clove. I have sent my baggage and some forces 
there. The enemy must be attended to. You virill Acre- 
fore halt in the nearest place that is convenient upon the re- 
ceipt of this. Keep a good look-out towards Newark, Eliz- 
abethtown, &c., or those places from whence they can 
march into Pumpton. Should you be in danger of being in- 
terrupted there, throw your party across the river in Pump- 
ton, and defend the bridge, if practicable. If not, make the 
best retreat you can towards Morristown, &c. But by no 
means proceed unless necessity urges, derived from the pres- 
ent object. In every thing else pursue your best discretion. 
I am, sir, your humble servant, 

I. Varnitm. 

The following note from General Conway tends to prove, 
that although Burr was only a lieutenant-colonel in 1777, 
yet that he was actually received and treated as the com- 
mandant of his regiment, from which he was never absent! 
Colonel Malcolm, in general, was employed on other duty. 


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Aged 21.] MBM0IR8 OF AAKON BUBR. 119 


20th October, 1777. 

I have received a letter from Captain Kearsley respecting 
the settlement of the rank of the captains and subalterns. I 
could not give him an immediate answer, because I was then 
attending a court-martial. I wish this matter was settled as 
soon as possible to the satisfaction of the officers of your re- 
giment. The general officers being employed in several 
courts-martialy which, along with the camp-duty, will take 
up all their time, I think you had best apply to the adju- 
tant-general. Know from him the manner in which the 
ranks of the Virginia and Pennsylvania officers have been 
settled, and arrange accordingly, at least pro tempore, the 
rank of your gentlemen. 

I am, sir, your most obedient and humble servant, 

T. Conway. 

The regiment joined the army in November, 1T77, at 
Whitemarsh, in Pennsylvania, twenty miles from Philadel- 
phia. Colonel Burr, in command of it, was stationed about 
half a mile in advance of the main body. After a few 
weeks, the army went into winter-quarters at Valley Forge. 
During the winter. Colonel Burr proposed to General Wash- 
ington an expedition against Staten Island. He stated to 
the commander-in-chief that he was personally and well ac- 
quainted with many of the inhabitants in the vicinity of the 
island. That he believed they would join him as volun- 
teers ;. and that he only asked two hundred men of his own 
regiment as a nucleus. General Washington declined grant- 
ing the request. But subsequently, anunsuccessftd attempt 
was made under the command of Lord Stirling. 

Within eight or ten miles of Valley Forge, there was a 
narrow and important pass, known as ,the Gulf. A strong 
body of militia were stationed to defend it. They were in 


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[Aged 31. 




the habit of exciting in the camp false alanns; and the 
main body, in consequence, was frequently put in motion. 
When not put in motion, they were greatly disturbed, espe- 
cially at night. These alarms generally resulted from the 
want of a rigid discipline. Greneral M'Dougall was at Val- 
ley Forge, and exceedingly annoyed. Of Burr, as a dis- 
ciplinarian and a soldier, he entertained a high opinion ; 
and recommended to Washington that he withdraw from 
this detachment Burr's seniors, as officers, and giro him 
the command of the post, which was accordingly done. 
Colonel Burr inunediately conunenced a rigid system of 
police, visiting every night, and at all hours of the night, 
the sentinels; changing ^ir position, &c. During the 
day he kept the troops under a constant drill. The rigour 
of this service was not adapted to the habits of mihtia, who 
had been accustomed to pass, in camp, a life of idleness, 
and to act as suited their individual whims and caprices. 
A portion of the most worthless became restless, and were 
determined to rid themselves of such a commander. 

Colonel Burr was notified of the contemplated mutiny, 
m which he would probably fall a victim. He ordered the 
detachment to be formed that night (it being a cold> bright 
moonUght), and secretly directed that all their cartridges 
should be drawn, so that there should not be a loaded mus- 
ket on the ground. He provided himself with a good and 
well-sharpened sabre. He knew all the principal muti- 
neers. He marched along the line, ejring the men closely. 
When he came opposite to one of the most daring of the 
ringleaders, the soldier advanced a step, and levelled his 
musket at Colonel Burr, calling out — ^** Now is your time, 
my boys." Burr, being well prepared aitti in readiness, 
anticipating an assault, with a celerity for which he was re- 
markable, smote the arm of the mutineer above the elbow, 
and nearly severed it from his body, ordering him, at the 
same time, to take and keep his place in the line. In a 
few minutes the men were dismissed, and the arm of the 


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Aged 21.] MBMOIM OF AARON BUEB. 121 

-mutineer was next day amputated. No more was heard of 
the mutiny; nor were there afterwards, dudng Colonel 
Burr's command, any false alarms. This soldier belonged 
to Wayne's brigade; and some of &e officers talked of 
j^aving Colonel Burr arrested, and tried by a court-martial, 
for the act ; but the threat was nerer carried into execution. 
That Colonel Burr joined the army at White Marsh, and 
was there in conunand of his regiment, the following appli- 
cation and (nder will show>— 

Near White M«nh, No?., 1777. 
The papers and clothing of the companies which have 
}ately joined Malcolm's regiment are at Bethlem. The papers 
are now wanted; and several of the officers cannot appear 
decent until they receiye other clothes : for these reasons I 
would ask your indulgence for leave of absence, for two 
subalterns, six days. Their presence is not particularly 
necessaiy with their companies. 

RespectfoUy your qb't serv't, 

A. Burr. 
Hon. General Conway. 

This application General Conway returns, vnth the fol- 
lowing endorsement : — 

Colonel Burr is master to send such officers as he thinks 
requisite, in order to procure the papers wanted, and the 
clothes for the use of the regiment. 

T. Conway. 

While the army was at Valley Foige, in the winter of 
1T77-78, the difficulties between General Washington and 
General Gates, and their respective £dends, became, in a 
^eat measure, matter of publicity. At this period there 
were two parties among the officers. Washington had his 
warm friends and supporters. Lee and Grates had theirs. 

Vol I— Q 6 


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[Aged 21. 


Colonel Burr was of the latter* The merits of the question 
will not be discussed ; and the subject will only be referred 
to so far as Burr is concerned. 

In the spring of 1776, at the request of the commander- 
in-chief, Burr joined his military family for a short space 
of time, but sooii became dissatisfied and retired. On the 
29th of August, 1776, the American army retreated from 
Long Island. This retreat Burr had pressed upon Putnam, 
Mifflin, and others. In his letter to T. Edwards,* dated 
the 10th of August, nearly three weeks before it took place, 
he says : " They (the British) are to come through the 
Sound, and thus invest us by the North and East rivers. 
They are then to land on both sides of the island, join 
their forces, and draw a line across, which will hem us irty 
and totally cut off all communication, after which they will 
have their ownfun^ 

During the night of the retreat. Burr was actively enga* 
ged aiding M*Dougall in the embarcation of the troops at 
Brooklyn ; and, from a personal knowledge of the localities 
of it and the adjacent places, he imagined that he had ren- 
dered some service. It has been shown that, by his intre- 
pidity and perseverance in the retreat from New-York, he 
rescued from impending danger the brigade of General Sil- 
liman. In neither of these cases was his conduct noticed 
by the commander-in-chief, either in general orders or 
otherwise. Young, ardent, ambitious, and of a fiery tem- 
perament, he thought that justice was not done to his 
efforts, and construed these, vrith other minor occurrences 
about the same time, into acts of hostility towards him. In 
September, 1776, therefore, his prejudices against General 
Washington became fixed and unchangeable ; and to the 
latest hour of his life he recurred to the retreat from Long 
Island, and from the city of New-York, vrith acrimonious 
feelings towards the fcommander-in-chief. Whatever may 

^* Sm page 96. 


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Aged 21.] MSMoiES of aaron burr. 123 

be said to the contrary, as early as this period those preju- 
dices were formed and confirmed. That General Wash- 
ington placed na confidence in Burr, and diat, for some 
reason, he was exceedingly hostile towards him, is equally 
certain. Whether his hostility commenced at this period 
is matter of more uncertainty. Events already noticed 
demonstrate that the general considered him an intrepid, 
efficient, and vigilant officer. 

Thus, in 1777, Burr was the friend of Lee and Gates in 
opposition to General Washington. In the beginning of 
January^, 1778, it was reported to Burr that Lord Stirling 
iiad made some remarks respecting the manner in which the 
colcttiel had contributed to arrange the rank of his (BurrV) 
subaltern officers. Lord Stirling at this time commanded 
the division. It vrill be xecollected that, a few weeks previ- 
ous, Colonel Burr had proposed to the commander-in-chief 
an enterprise against Staten Island, which was rejected; 
but, immediately after, it was unsuccessfully attempted by 
Lord Stirling. The difficulty, therefore, in fact, between 
these gentlemen, grew out of the latter circumstance. On 
the 7th of January, 1778, Burr addressed Lord Stirling, 
requesting an explanation, which was promptly given in the 
following note, and thus the matter terminated. 

Ctmp, Janutiy ath, 1778. 
The receipt of your letter of yesterday's date not a Uttle 
surprised me, for I can assure you that I have never made 
use of a word in censure of yourself, or of the court you 
mention. I some days ago ordered a return to be brought 
in of the names and rank of the officers of the division, 
independent of what the two courts were doing, and de- 
sired Major Monroe* to direct the brigade-majors to make 
them out as soon as possible : from this, I suppose, some 

• Janet MooRW, late preadmt of the United states, then aid to Lo^ 



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194 MMotBs 43F AAEoir viKR [Aged 1^. 

-mistake Immb arose, whidi I will call vpon Major Stagg lo 
^»plmn. I am, 

Yowr most obedient himible aenrant, 

loeutenaBl-cdoiiel Bukr. 


Colonel Burr was a rigid disciplinarian, and in the poF- 
formance of his duty made no difference between those of- 
ficers who were his friends and diose who were not ; yet he 
neirer failed to adopt the most delicate and gen^emanly 
eomise, where, in his opinicm, rigour became necessary. 
Hiere are many docmnents tending to estaUish this fact, 
such as the following : — 

Oamp, April lOdi, 1778. 

My Lord, 
In my weekly returns, your lordslnp may kive observed 
that Captain Tom has been returned — aiamt witiumt leave. 
A^ he had been long from the regiment, and no reasons had 
been assigned to me for his extraordinary absence, I thou^t 
myself in duty bound to make such report. Upon his return 
to camp, he has accounted for his conduct m a maamear more 
satisfactory than I feared he could. 

Unwilling to deal too severely with a valuable officer, and 
cimscious of the impropriety of passing any seeming neglect 
j^"*" /in entire silence, I refer him to your lordship as the projier 
judge of Ms conduct and excuses. 
^ J^^ I ^y ^^^^> y^^ ^^^ acquainted with the character of Captain 
Y' I Tom. You have often heard me mwition hiiQ with respect. 
Should his absence appear, in any degree, to have arisen 
from inattention, I hope your lordship will treiat it with all 


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ibe ddicacy which the conduct o£ a man. ef feeUag^ and oi 

I have the hoaour to be, 
Y(Mir lordship's most obedieitt senranl^ 

A. BvuR. 


Yorktowii, June. leOi, 1778. 
My DfiAR SiRy 

I haTe just now met with Cq)tain Keaxsley, which enaUeft 
me to let you know that I am here, sent, by Geneial Gate* 
to Congress on a yariety of bi^iness* 

I have conseiMied to do dnty as adjutant^oeiail to the 
northern army, on conditions of holding my regiment, and 
that it should come to the^ nordiwanL This first agreed to ;. 
the last accoidrng to eventSw 

None of th^ sixteen additiimal regimei^ stand on the new 
establishment. Of the strongest, if ours ctsnes; within that 
description, it will be one. As General Washingtmi writes 
General Gates^ that he cannot convemenUy spare you at thist 
timey I recommend your sending three or four officers to tho 
State of New-York on the recruiting sendee. You know 
who will answer best^ and whocm be b^t spared; and to 
recruit for the regiment at lai^e, I think I can provide yoja 
with some men. 

As I haye not thne either to pass throu^, come^ or to 
write any other of the officers, do tdl them how I am eir^ 
cumstanced, and offer them my best resp»:ts« I am happy 
to hear that Major Pawling is better. I shall write from 
Peekskill very soon, and beg to hear from you. 

I ever am, yeiy sincerely, affectionately yours, 

W.. Malcolm. 

By the preceding letter it appears that "General Wash- 
ington had written to Greneral Gates that he could not eon^ 
reniently spare Colonel Burr." The reason is obvious^ Ijt 


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126 MXM0IR8 OF AARON BVRR. [Aged 22f. 

was at the veiy moment when Sir Henry Clinton was about 
to evacuate Philadelphia, and to retreat through New-Jer- 
sey. The commander-in-chief was unwilling at such a cri- 
sis to part with an efficient and gallant officer. On the 18th 
of June, Sir Henry CUnton, with his forces, left the city, 
proceeded to Gloucester Point, three miles down the river, 
and crossed the Delaware into New-Jersey. That day he 
marched as far as Haddonfield. The Americans crossed 
the Delaware at Corriel's Ferry, and halted, after a dis- 
tressing march from heat and rain, within five miles of Prince- 
ton. During the preceding winter General Lee had been 
exchanged, and joined the army at Valley Forge. 

The enemy's force was now estimated at between 9000 
and 10,000, rank and file. The Americans at 10,600, exclu- 
sive of Maxweir^4)rigade, about 1200, and about 1200 mi- 
litia. On the 24th of June, 1T78, the conunander-in-chief 
propounded to the general officers the question, " Will it be 
advisable to hazard a general action T The answer was, 
''Not advisable ; but a detachment of 1500 to be immedi- 
ately sent to act, as occasion may serve, on the enemy's left 
flank and rear, in conjunction with the other continental 
troops and miUtia already hanging about them» and the main 
body to preserve a relative position, to act as circumstances 
may require." Signed by Lee, Stirling, Greene, Fayette, 
Steuben, Poor, Paterson, Woodford, Scott, Portail, Knox. 

Four days after, viz., the 28th of June, the battle of Mon- 
mouth was fought. It was on this occasion that General 
Washington ordered the arrest of General Lee : Istly, For 
disobedience of orders in not attacking the enemy on the 
28th of June, agreeably to repeated instructions ; 2dly, Fot 
misbehaviour before the enemy on the same day, by making 
an unnecessary, disorderly, and shameful retreat; 3dly, 
For disrespect to the commander-in-chief, in two letters, da- 
ted the 20th of June. On the 12th of August the court- 
martial, of which Lord Stirling was president, found Lee 
guilty, and sentenced him to be suspended from any com- 


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Aged 22.] HBMOiRs of aaron ivrr. 127 

mand in the armies of the United . States for the term of 
twelve months. The history of the battle of Monmouth, 
with all the consequences that followed, has long since been 
given to the world by the friends and the opponents of the 
respective parties. It is only necessary to state here, that 
Colonel Burr, on that occasion, was ranked among the sup- 
porters of Lee, and had himself real or imaginary cause of 
complaint against the commander-in-chief. 

In this action Colonel Burr commanded a brigade in the 
division of Lord Stirling, composed of his own regiment and 
some Pennsylvanians, under the immediate command of 
Lieutenant-colonel Dummer. Gordon, in his History of the 
American Revolution, says, " The check the British received 
gave time to make a disposition of the left wing and second 
line of the main army in the wood, and on the eminence to 
which he had been directed and was retreating. On this 
were placed some batteries of cannon by Lord Stirling, who 
commanded the left wing, which played upon the British 
with great effect, and, seconded by parties of infantry de* 
tacked to oppose them, effectually put a stop to their advance. 
The British, finding themselves warmly opposed in firont, 
attempted to turn the American left flank, but were re* 

Shortly after the action had become general, Burr dis- 
covered a detachment of the enemy coming from the bor- 
ders of a wood on the southward. He instantly put his 
brigade in motion for the purpose of checking them. It 
was necessary to cross a morass, over which a bridge was 
thrown. He ordered Lieutenant-colonel Dummer to ad- 
vance vrith the Pennsylvania detachment, and that he would 
bring up the rear with his own regiment. After a part of 
the brigade was over the bridge. Colonel Barber, aid to 
General Washington, rode up, and said that the orders of the 
commander-in-chief were that he should halt. Colonel 
Burr remonstrated. He said his men, in their present posi- 
tion, were exposed to the fire of the enemy, and that bi9 


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128 MBiiontt or aabox imtm. [Aged 22. 

whde brigade mii8t now cross the bridge b^ore they could 
halt with any safety. Colonel Barber repeated that the 
oiders of General Washington were peremptory &at he 
should halt, which was accordingly done, and the brigade, 
in their divided state, suffered sererely. Lieutenant^olonel 
Dummer was killed ; Colonel Burr's horse was shot under 
him ; and those who had crossed the bridge were compelled 
to retreat. 

The movements and the firing of the armies continued 
until dark. The Americans remained on the battle-ground, 
with an intention of renewing the attack in the morning. 
Burr's uniform practice was, when near an enemy, to be up 
at night, visiting his own pickets, and taking the necessary 
precautions for avoiding a surprise. The night preceding 
the action Colonel Burr was thus engaged, as it was known 
that the British would move at davm of day, if not before, 
and General Washington had given orders to Lee, who was 
in the advance, to commence the attack as soon as they did 
move. The weather was intensely hot. Notwidistanding 
the fatigue which Colonel Burr had undergone during the 
night of the 27th and the succeeding day, yet he remained 
up the night of the 28th also. Sir Henry Clinton's 
troops were employed in removing their wounded, and then 
marched away in such silence, that, though General Poor 
lay near them, their retteat was effected without his knowl- 

Exhausted with fatigue, wad worn out for the want of re- 
pose, on the 29th, Colonel Burr lay down under the shade 
of some trees and feU asleep. When he awoke, he was 
closed, and had been for some time, ta the rays of the 
sun. He found himself unable to walk vnthout great diffi- 
culty; and so severely was he afflicted, that he did not 
recover from its effects for some years afterwards. A 
stranger to complaints or murmurs when enduring pain, 
V the real state of his health was unknown to even his brother 
officers. In this situation he was immediately ordered by 


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Aged 22.] KEKOiiur or ameov burr. 129 

General Washington, through Lord Stirling, to repair ta 
Elizabethtown, on highly important and confidential busi* 
ness. The great object of the commander-in-chief was to 
aaoerCain, as far as practicaUe, the future morements of the 
enemy, Sir Henry Clinton having secured his retreat to the 
city of New-York. General Washington proceeded to 
New-Brunswick, at which place Lord Stirling was attend- 
ing as president of the court-martial for the trial of Gen- 
eral Lee. The following notes will explain the character 
of Burr's mission,, and the confidence reposed in him by 
tine commander-in-diief. 


Bnmwiok, July 4th, 1778^ . 

Dear Sir, 
I bare this moment received yours of yesterday's date. 
On showing it to General Washington, he approves of the 
progress of your inquiries, and desires they may be con- 
tinued. But he particularly desires me to send off this ea?- 
press to yoUy to request that you will endeavour to get all 
the intelligence you possiibly can firom die city of New- York ; 
What are the preparations of shipping for embarcation of 
foot or horse ? — ^what expeditions on hand ? — whether up the 
North river, Connecticut, or West Indies ? For this purpose 
you may send one, two, or three trusty persons over to the 
dty, to get die i^orts^ tha newspapers, and the truth^.if: 
they can. We are just going to ediibit a grand dutmpetre 
and feu de joie, so must only say that 

Lam sincerely yours, 



Brunsirick, July ^fithv 1778. 
Dbir. SiRy 
I have your letter of yesterday's date* The oouit-mam 
tial, of which I am president, is adjourned to MorristowUi 
Vol, I.— R 6* 


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which will oblige me to go there to-morrow. I must there- 
fore desire you will direct your letters, with such intelli- 
gence as you may procure, to his excellency General 
Washington, who will be on the line of march with the 
army. In haste, 

Your most obedient servant, 


from lord stirling. 

Brunswick, Julj 6, 1778. 

General Washington desires me to state that he wishes 
you would employ three, four, or more persons, to go to 
Bergen heights, Weehawk, Hoebuck, or any other heights 
thereabout, convenient to observe the motions of the ene- 
my's shipping, and to give him the earUest intelligence 
thereof; whether up the river particularly. In short, every 
thing possible that can be obtained. 

Yours, &c., 



Newark, Jcdj 8th, 1778. 

Dear Sir, 
His excellency desires me to inquire whether you have 
received any information of the enemy's movements, situa- 
tion, or design ? He will leave this place about 4 o'clock 
this afternoon, before which he will expect to hear from 

I am, dear sir, your most obedient, 

Tench Tilghman. 

Having completed liie business on which he had been 
despatched by the commander-in-chief, Colonel Burr pro- 
ceeded to join his regiment, although his health was very 
bad. In a few days he received the following order : — 


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Aged 22.] MEMOIRS of aaron burr. 131 

Camp, near Croton Bridge^ 19th July, 1778. i 
Colonel Malcolm's regiment is ordered to march at two 
o'clock to-morrow morning, to the fort at West Point, on 
Hudson river, with the regiment commanded by Lieutenant- 
colonel Parker, which is to join on the road near Croton 
bridge. The commander of the two regiments will make 
all convenient despatch, marching ten miles a day, as 
water and ground will admit. 

The Baron De Kalb. 

Early in July, 1778, in consequence of Sir Henry Clin- 
ton having arrived in New- York with his army, much ex* 
citement and some apprehension existed in the upper part 
of the state respecting the tones. The legislature had pre- 
viously adopted rigid measures on the subject, and it be- 
came necessary that an intelligent and confidential miUtary 
officer should be designated to take charge of them. Gen- 
eral Washington selected Colonel Burr for this purpose* 
The trust was one of a delicate character. 


Camp, White Plaint, 2d August, 1779. 

By an act of the legislature of the State of New- York, 
the commissioners for detecting and defeating conspiracies, 
&c., were directed to tender an oath of allegiance, in the 
said act prescribed, to certain persons, inhabitants of this 
state, who have affected to observe, during the present war, 
a dangerous and equivocal neutrality ; and on their refusal 
to take the same, that the said commissioners should cause 
them to be conveyed within the enemy's Unes. In conse-. 
quence whereof, sundry persons, to whom the said oath hath 
been tendered, and who have refused to take the same, were 
by the commissioners directed to rendezvous at Fishkill, on 
Monday next, in order to embark on board a sloop to bo 
provided at that place for the purpose, 


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In order that this business might be conducted with as 
little danger as possible to the operations of the present 
campaign, his excellency Governor Clintcm requested his 
excellency the commander-in-chief to appoint an officer of 
the army for the purpose ; and you being assigned to this 
business, his excellency GoYemor Clinton hath directed me, 
in his name, to request you to repair to Fishkill on Monday 
next, &c. 

If by any accident you should not find the commissioners 
at Fishkill, his excellency will be much obUged to you if 
you would ride up to Poughkeepsie, where the board are 

I am, with great respect, yours, &c^ 

Robert Benson, Secretary. 

P. S. Enclosed is the flag ; and his excellency ihe gover- 
nor desires you will fill the blank with the name of the 
sloop, and the names of the persons who may be put on 
bocffd by the c(Mnmissioners. 

At a meeting of the Board of Commissioners for detecting 
and defeating Conspiracies^ held at Poughkeepsie, Au- 
gust 3d, 1778. 

Present — ^Mr. Piatt, Mr. Harpur, Mr. Cantine, and Mr- 

The board having received a letter from his excellency 
Grovemor Clinton, dated at camp, White Plains, the second 
instant, informing that his excellency General Washingtcm 
had appointed Lieutenant-colonel Burr to conduct such 
persons as had refused to take the oath of allegiance to this 
stale, prescribed by an act of the legislatinre thereof within 
the enemy's lines ; therefore, 

Resolved, That Colonel Burr be served with a copy of 
the proceedings of this board against William Smith suad 
Cadwallader Colden, Esquires, and Mr. Roeliff J. EUinge ; 
and that he is hereby authorized to r^nove each and every 


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Aged 2^.] , MSMoiRS of aaron iurk. 138 

of them within the enemy's lines, in such way and manner 
as his excellency General Washington may have already 
directed, or hereafter shall direct. 
Extracts from the minutes, by order, 

Tbunis Tappan, Secretary to the Board. 


* Poaghkeepsie, August 3d, 1778. 

The commissioners for conspiracies being informed by 
his excellency the governor of your appointment to receive 
at Fishkill such persons as have refused to take die oath 
prescribed by a law of this state, and who, by virtue of the 
said law, are to be sent into the enemy's Unes, by us ap- 
pointed to carry the same into execution ; in consequence 
of this, we hereby send you William Smith, Cadwallader 
Golden, Esquires, and Mr. Roeliff J. Eltinge, who have re- 
fused to take the said oath, and thereby have subjected 
themselves to a removal within the said lines, which re- 
moval you will be pleased to take charge of. 

The bearer, Cornelius E. Wynkoop, Esquire, is one of 
the board, to whom we refer you for such particulars as 
may be necessary to adjust, the more effectually to enable 
us to convey, in future, such gentlemen as the above over 
into the enemy's lines. 

We are, sir, with respect. 

Your most obedient servants, 
Zepha. Platt, \ 

Robert Harpur, > Commissioners* 
Peter Cantine, Jun., ) 


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134 MIM0IR8 OF AARON BURR. [Aged 22. 


Einderhook, August Tth, 1778. 

My dear Sir, 

I write you in haste by Mr. Van Schaack,* who will con- 
vey it to you should you be at West Point. This gentle- 
man has, by long acquaintance, manifested such qualities as 
have much/ attached me to his interest ; but, most unfor- 
tunately for his friends, has differed in political opinions 
from the body of the community in general, and from me in 
particular, in consequence of which difference (by means of 
the test act of this state) he is about to be removed to the 
city of New-York ; and has been so obliging as to oflfer me 
his assistance in procuring for, and sending to me, a few 
family necessaries. Should it be in your power, I am very 
certain it would be an unnecessary request to desire you to 
lend me any assistance : nor need I desire you to render 
Mr. Van Schaack's short stay among you as agreeable as 
his and your circumstances will permit. 

I most sincerely congratulate you on the happy prospect 
of a speedy termination to the war. I believe I shall visit 
the camp soon, in which case you will have the pleasure 
to see Mr. Edwards in company. I have, since I saw you, 
become the father of a second daughter. Pamela has had 
a most tedious and dangerous illness, but is, thank God, 
now, for her, very well. You may be sure she will be 
glad to be affectionately remembered by you. 
Yours most sincerely, 

Theodore Sedgwick. 

It has heretofore been stated that Colonel Burr was of 
the Lee and Gates party in the army. ^v A short note from 
Lee to Burr will show the poignancy of the general's feel- 

* There were two families of Van Schaicks in the State d New-York. 
They spelled their names differentlj. The family of Colonel Van Schakk were 
revolationary whigs. The Van Schaachi were adherents of the crown. , 

t u"^^^ |'P|^ p^.t f^t. '''^'^"Y ^ . 


^ cTlUu .^AA^'^^ \Xlf^' -*f^^ '^^-^^ • "" 

Aged 22.] MBMoiRS or aaron burr. ^ 135 ^^Jjjir* > 

ings under the sentence of the court-^nartial, and the mortifi- ^ , ^' 5q ^ 
cation and disappointment he e: 
refused to reverse that sentence 

cation and disappointment he experienced when Congress . J»Jia/^ 


October, 1778. (^/^'^^ . 

Dear Sir, ^^^6^^^^ 

As. you are so kind as to interest yourself so warmly in A^ 
my favour, I cannot resist the temptation of writing you a ^^if'^'^ j)# 
few lines. Till these two days, I was convinced the Con- j\ y^A^T^^"^ 
gross would unanimously have rescinded the absurd, shame- L'TY « 

fill sentence of the court-martial ; but, within these two j^A^f 
days, I am taught to think that equity is to be put out of \ 
the question, and the decision of the affair to be put entirely ^^ 
on the strength of party ; and, for my own part, I do not 
see how it is possible, if the least decency or regard for 
national dignity has place, that it can be called a party 

I wish I could send you the trial, and will the moment I 
can obtain one. I think myself, and I dare say you will 
think on the perusal, that the affair redounds more to 
my honour, and the disgrace of my persecutors, than, in 
the warmth of indignation, either I or my aid-de-camps 
have represented it. As I have no idea that a proper rep- 
aration will be made to my injured reputation, it is my 
intent, whether the sentence is reversed or not reversed, to 
resign my commission, retire to Virginia, and learn to 
hoe tobacco, which I find is the best school to form a con- 
summate general. This is a discovery I have lately made. 
Adieu. Dear sir, believe me to be your most 

Sincerely obliged servant, 

C. Lee. 

After the batde of Monmouth, in June, 1778, Colonel 
Burr was constantly employed. His health, from the fa- 
tigues of that and the subsequent day, was greatly impaired. 


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[Aged as. 

Early in October, he found himself, in a measure, unfit far 
active service. He left West Point, where his regiment 
was stationed, and repaired to Elizabethtown, in the hope 
that a few weeks of repose might prove beneficial ; but in 
these hopes he was sorely disappcHnted. He then deter- 
mined to ask a furlough, and retire from the army for a few 
months, provided the furlough was granted without his re- 
ceiving pay. On this point he was Tery fastidious. By 
these feelings he was imiformly governed through a long 
life. He never sought nor accepted an office for the emol- 
ument it afforded. He wrote the commandexvin^chief on 
the subject, as follows : — 


Slikabethlown, 24U| OcColMr^ 177a 


The excessive heat and occasional fatigues of the prek 
ceding campaign, have so impaired my health and constitu- 
tion as to render me incapable of inunediate service. I 
have, for three months past, taken every advisable step for 
my recovery, blit have the mortification to find, upon my 
return to duty, a return of sickness, and that every relapse 
is more dangerous than the former. I have consulted sev- 
eral physicians ; they all assure me that a few months re* 
tirement and attention to m^ health are the only probable 
means to restore it. A conviction of this truth, and of my 
present inability to discharge the duties of my office, induce 
me to beg your excellency's permission to retire botn pay 
and duty till my health will permit, and the nature of ser- 
vice shall more particularly require my attention, provided 
.such permission can be given without subjecting me to any 
disadvantage in point of my present rank and command, or 
any I might acquire during the interval of my absence. 

I shall still feel and bold myself liable. to be called into 
service at your excellency's pleasure, precisely as if in fudll 
pay, and barely on furlou^ ; reserving to myself only the. 


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Aged 22.} VBXoiaa of aaeqn buul 13T 

privilege of judging of the suffici^icy <rf my heakh during 
the present appearance of inactivitj. My anxiety to be out 
of pay arises in no measure from intenti<xi or wish to avcnd 
any requisite service. But too grei^ a reg^ to malicious 
surmises, and a delicacy perhaps censurable^ might other- ud^ 
wise hurry me unnecessarily inta service, to the {Hreju* 
dice of my healthy and without any advantage to the pub- 
Uc, as I have had the misfortune already to experience. 

I am encouraged in this proposiJ by the opinion Lord 
Stirling has been pleased to express of die justice of my re- 
quest ; — ^the sense your e(xcellency must eoatertain of the 
weak state of the corps in which I have the honour to ccon^ 
mand, and the present sufficiency of its respective officers. 
I purpose keeping my quarters at this place until I have 
the honour of your exjcellcaiy's answpx, which I wait with 

I am, with respect, 

Your humble servant, 

A. Burr. 

His Excellency Gborgb WAsuNaxoN^ 


Hdadq^oarten, Frededcluto>^ 26tk October, 1778L 

Dear Sir, 
I have youi favour of the 24th* You, ijt my opinion, 
carry your ideas of delicacy too far when> you propose to. 
drop your pay while the recovery of your healdi necessarily 
requires your absence from the service. It is not custom^- 
ary, and it would be unjust. You therefore have leave to 
retire until your health is so far re-established as to enable 
you to do your duty. Be pleased to give the colonel notice 
of this, that he may know where to call upon you should any 
unforeseen exigency require it. 

I am your obedient servant, 

G. Washington* 

Vol. I.— S 


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On the receipt of the above letter, Colonel Burr repaired 
to West Point and joined his regiment, notwithstanding thef 
shattered state of his constitution. He was unwilling to ab- 
sent himself from the service, and at the same tune receive 
pay. Colonel Burr was now in his twenty-third year, and 
yet so youthful was his appearance, that strangers, on a first 
introduction, viewed him as a mere boy. As evidence of 
the fact, he has often related with great good-humour this 
anecdote. While he was commanding at West Point, a 
countryman had some business to transact with him. He 
requested admittance to Colonel Burr. The orderly ser- 
geant conducted him into headquarters. 

" Sir," said the countryman, " I wish to see Colonel 
Burr, as I have something to say to him." 

" You may proceed. I am Colonel Burr." 

" I suppose," rejoined the honest farmer, " you are Col- 
onel Burr's son." 

The sentinel at the door heard and repeated the conver- 
sation, and Burr was often afterwards designated as Colonel 
Burr's son. He remained at West Point until December, 
when he was removed to Haverstraw by the orders of Gen- 
eral M*Dougall, and had the command of a brigade, consist- 
ing of Malcolm's regiment, and a portion of Spencer's and 
Patten's regiments. He was subsequently ordered to take 
command on the lines in Westchester county, a most im- 
portant and not less perilous post. In December, he re- 
ceived from Mrs. J. Montgomery, the widow of General 
Montgomery, a letter, as follows : — 


Rhinebeck, December 25th, 1778. 

I take the liberty to enclose a list of things Mr. Smith was 
SO kind as to send me from New- York by the return flag. 
The captain of the flag, of whom I made some inquiries. 


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Aged 22.] lOBMoiRs of aaron btor. 139 

professed to know nothing of them, and referred me to Col- 
onel Burr, who might know something of the matter. 

I am almost ashamed to take up your attention about so 
small an affair ; but the diffibulty that attends obtaining the 
least article of dress, must, I think, plead my apology. Be- 
sides, having this opportunity, I would wish to assure Col- 
onel Burr of the very great respect I have for those gentle- 
men whom General Montgomery professed to esteem; 
among which, sir, I am told you was not the least. To be 
by him distinguished argues a superior merit, and will ensure 
you a most sincere welcome at Rhinebeck should it lie in 
your way. 

I am, sir, with esteem, yours, &c. 


Colonel Burr. 

On taking conunand of the lines in Westdiester, Colonel 
Burr received from brother officers congratulatory letters, so 
distinguished was the station considered. Colcmel Udney 
Hay, under date of the 29th of January, 1779, says, " As 
you have now got the post of honour, accept of my sincere 
wishes that you may reap the laurels I bdieve you de- 

As soon as Burr arrived at the camp, he commenced a 1 ^ 
system of reform and discipline. Previous to his arrival, -^ 
there was exhibited a most disgracdul scene of plunder, •j'^""^ 
and sometimes of murder, along the whole fronti6!r. This /p^J^ 
he promptly checked ; and, in all his efforts to accomplish 
this end, he was sustained by General M'Dougall. 


Caiiq)| White Plaini, 12th Januaryi 1779. 

Dear Sir, 
The enclosed return will show you the deficiency of offi- 
cers and men at this post. Above the complement for the 
parties, I wish to have a guard for myself, and a commissa* 


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140 HsiUHRs OF AABON Buuu [Aged 22^ 

ly's guard. To detail men for these poxposes will imeiferer 
with the rotation of duty. 

I airired here on Friday erening. The weather on Sat- 
urday was too severe and stormy to permit me to make my-^ 
self acquainted with the post and dispontion of the troops. 
I improved yesterday for those purposes, and found it ne- 
cessary to alter die position. I have moved the left three 
miles forward, and the two centre divisiions so as to aUign 
with that and Tarrytown. The posts now possessed by 
these detachments are. 

First Tarrytown. 

Second. Isaac Reed's and John Hammond's, near Sow* 
mill river. 

TMrcL Starr's^ and Afoses Miller's, one and a half miles 
in front of Young's. 

Fourth. Merritt's and neighbouring houses, near Farmer 

By this arrangement the extent of^my command is con<- 
ttacted three miles, and the distance from my left to the 
Sound is three nules less than> before. The men more com^ 
pact, and the posts equidtstaat from the enemy. While I 
was upon the business above mentioned, Colonel Littlefield 
and Mr. Thomas visited Colonel Enos and Lieutenant- 
colonel Holdridge, to enforce the necessity of an immediate 
junction, to complete the security of the country upon the 
present plan ; but these gentlemen say they have no orders 
to cross Birmn river. They have their quarters in Horse- 
neck, and some troops are nordi of that place. Thus, not- 
withstanding my endeavours, the country will be unpro- 
tected, and I am insecure. 

I enclose you the arrest of a Captain Brown. I am sorry 
for the necessity^ of any thing which may have the appear- 
ance of severity ; but the avowal of behaviour so very un- 
beccmiing constrained me to it. The required piurties of 
militia will, I believe, join: me Uus vretk. I shall write you 
ehcfot iron-bound casks in a few days; These is not a hide,. 


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Aged S2.] MsvoiEs aF aaron vomm. 141 

tiie property of the country, in all dns qnarter, except four- 
teen in the hands of the commissary of hides. I shall, 
as soon as possible, make myself acquainted with the offi- 
cers of the militia. I have sent to Bedford, but haye no 
answer, about rum, Sec. 

I send the names of a few of Malcolm's officers, whom I 
would widh were ordered to join me munediately. Some 
x>f them, I beliere, are absent. Lieutenant-colonel Little- 
field had it in intentkm to go wkh most of the men this 
-evening on an expedition to West Farms and Monisania. 
Abstracted from your verbal instructions, the plan appeared 
to me premature. The men here are not half officered; 
the country by no means sufficiently reconnoitred ; the 
force very inadequate, even for covering parties. As tliere 
was a prospect that each of die inconveniences would shortly 
be removed, I advised to defer it. To convince them that 
my disapprobation arose from no jealousy of honour, I told 
Colonel Littlefield that if the enterprise should hereafter be 
thought more advisable, I woidd leave to him the execution : 
if I should thmk proper to send him on that command, I 
would act with the covering party. One hundred and fifty 
ccmtinentals and fifty miiitia was the force prq;>osed for this 
•evening ; but as there are a number of vohmteers on the 
spot, I consented to and encouraged an excursion to Frog's 
I^eck, under Colonel LitdefieUL I expect little from it, but 
have not so much to fear. 

I hope Mr. Stagg succeeded in his a(^)lication to Mr. 
Erskine. A draught of the country would be ef great ser- 
vice to me. In 3rour instructions about plunder, you direct 
idmtall the fatlxNrses, i&c. in tlie hands of disaffected persims, 
"'lying Certain courses," are to be taken, on tl» supposition 
that llhey are designed for, or wSl faU into the hands of^ the 
enemy. As this mode of determining may be the source of 
much akercation, I couki wish, if you thou^ proper, the 
aeizable property might be designated by a certain number 
of mfles below our Mnes, or bdc^w ^ line intended to be 


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142 MEMOIRS OF AiRON BVRR. [Aged 22. 

formed from Tarrytown, through White Plains, to Sawpits 
or Rye. 

The two parties from Paterson's brigade will most of 
them want shoes in ten days. It is my opinion that a great 
part of those who came last with new shoes, will not, at the 
expiration of the time, be able to return for the want of 
shoes. Those they now have are of the sUghtest French 
make; many already worn out. If these men must be 
again relieved by others better shod, and they again in a 
few days, there will be such an endless marching and coun- 
termarching as will harass the troops, and wear out more ' 
shoes than all the duty performed here. Would not these 
evils be in some measure remedied by sending me a parcel 
of shoes ? . I will keep an exact account of the regiment 
they are delivered to. 

Your most obedient servant, 

A. Burr. 


White Phdns, Janaavy 13th, 1779. 

All the horsemen were so infatuated with the itch for 
scouting, that I had not one to despatch with the letter here- 
with sent. Colonel Littlefield, with the party, returned this 
morning. They brought up one prisoner. I shall send 
him up with another grand rascal to-morrow. There are 
evidences enough against Merritt to hang a dozen such, but 
many of them dare not appear at present. 
^ *; ^ Notwithstanding the cautions I gave, and notwithstanding 

\ V^^ I Colonel Littlefield's good intentions, I blush to tell you that 
I the party returned loaded with plimder. Sir, till now, I 
^ I .1 I never vrished for arbitrary power. I could gibbet half a 
I dozen good wMgs, with all the venom of an inveterate tory. 
/ The party had not been returned an hour, before I had six 
' or seven persons from New-RocheDe and Frog's Neck, with 
piteous applications for stolen goods and horses. Some of 


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Aged 22.] MEMOIRS OF AARON BflRR. 143 

these, persons are of the most firiendly families. I am morti- 
fied that not an officer on the ground has shown any activity 
to detect the plunderers or their spoil. I have got three 
horses, and a number of other ^articles, and have confined 
two soldiers who had them in possession. But these are 
petty rascals. I feel more pity than indignation towards 
them. They were honest men till debauched by this expe- 
dition. I believe some officers are concerned. If I can be 
assured of that (and I shall spare no labour), you may depend 
on seeing them with a file of men. The militia volunteers 
excelled in this business. . If I detect them I shall treat 
them with the same rigour, unless you advise to the con- 
trary. I wish you would, give me directions. I have at 
least a fortnight's work before me to undo the doings of last 

This day I enter on niy command. Truly an ominous 
commencement. Is this the promised protection? I read 
in the face of every child I pass; for the whole honour 
of the expedition redounds to me. But enough of this; 
more perhaps than you will thank me for. Webbers was of 
the party, and can give you a history. I now perceive from 
whence arose the ardour for scouting. I suppose the ser- 
geants' parties of militia, when they join me, will be subject 
to courts of the line. 

Your most obedient servant, 

A. Burr. 


PeelukiU, January 14th, 1779. 


The general has received yours, and directs me to inform 
you that such assistance will be granted as is necessary for 
the protection of the country and your honour. 

He desires that no expedition be set on foot till you hear 
further from him. He has no objections to Colonel Little- 
fidd's remaining vriik you till the arrival of more officers. 


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Handcuffs will be sent you a« soon as they can be made. 
If you hate a number of prisoners at any time to send up, 
let them be fastened right and left hands, and ^ guard cot 
the strings of their breeches, and there will be no danger of 
their making their escape, as they will be obliged to hold 
them up continually with one hand. 

Last evening Josiah Fowler made his escape from the 
provost ; possibly he may fall into the hands of your scouts 
or patrcds. If he does, please to take the best care of him. 

The general will Write you fully by the captain who wiH 
soon re-enforce you. One himdred pair of shoes will be sent 
you. The map of the country is herewith transmitted, for 
the purpose of taking a sketch of it. You will please to do 
it as soon as possible, and send it up by a careful hand. 
The general does not wish you ever to carry it from ]rour 

Your most obedient servant, 

RicKARD Platt, Aid-de-camp. 


H0adqa«rten,PMk)duU, Jairatfj 15th, 17m 

Mt dear Sir, 

Your favours of the 11th and 12th, with tl^ir enclosoresy 
came duly to hand. 

I am much mortified that Captain Brown should have 
merited your putting him in an arrest. But you have done 
your duty, fwr which accept my thanks. 

If an officer commanding an outpost will not be very vigi- 
lant, be exposes his party to be butchered, as the unfortu- 
nate Colonel Balor lately e]q)erienced. 

I am very sorry the militia have conducted so disorderly ; 
but I wish you to deal tenderly with them, as they aie brave, 
and are very sore, by the phmdermg of the tories. But 
support the honour of our arms and your ovrn, by giving 
redress to the innocent and defienceless. 

As the i»rittcipal objects of your omunand are to protect 


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Aged 22.] MXMoiRS of aaron buar. 145 

the good people of these states, aiid prevent supplies going 
to the enemy, you wiU not send out any parties, or make 
any excursions, but what are necessary for intelligence, and 
the preservation of your parties, till further orders. Your 
own ideas on this subject fully meet my approbation. In 
the meantime, let all the officers and men of your com* 
mand, who are unacquainted with the ground, traverse it 
alternately, from flank to flank, and as many miles in front 
as you may judge necessary. The position of the whole I 
leave to your own discretion, as circumstances shall arise. 

A good captain, and twenty picked men, of Nixon's, with 
two drums, accompany this, to re-enforce your left, and the 
orders are despatched to Major Pawling for the officers you 
wrote for. One hundred pair of shoes will be sent to ypu 
by diis snow. 

Send up all Burgojrne's men, with a good corporal and 
small party of the nine-months men, with the first deserters 
or prisoners. The sergeants' parties of the militia who are 
to join you, will, by their engagements, be under the con- 
tinental articles of war. If any of the miUtia who may go 
out on scouts or parties with yours Will not submit to tb« 
articles of war and your orders, don't suffer them to go with 
them, nor to appropriate any plunder; but order it to be 
given to the continental troops, and those who shall submit 
to those articles. 

If any of the militia maraud, send them up to me, with a 
guard. They must not be suffered to violate civil and mili- 
tary law. The legislature is the proper authority to enable 
them to miake reprisals. For whatever disorders they com- 
mit in front of your lines, will be plac^ by the enemy to 
your account. 

In all doubtful questions which may arise on my orders 
aa to the limits or legality of plunder in your front, I author- 
ize you to be the sole judge. In the exercise of this trust, 
it is my wish you should lean to the honour of our arms. 

A surgeon ia directed to attend your party ; when he 

Vol. I.— T 7 


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146 1CB1C0IR8 OF AARON BVRR. [Aged 28« 

arrives, please to advise me of it, that I may be relieved 
from all anxiety about you and your corps. If you are not 
supplied with rum before a quantity of it arrives here, we 
shall not forget you. If your horsemen are mounted and 
appointed, as well as your horse-guides, they will receive 
the same pay. If the oxen at Mr. Hunter's are not in work- 
ing order, put them in the care of your forage-master till 
they are. 

If you can get the articles taken from the inhabitants in 
the late expedition restored, let the militia ofif for that of- 
fence. When you get things in train, I flatter myself you 
will not have any future trouble with them. But the offi- 
cers of the regular troops must be rigorously dealt with, ac- 
cording to our martial law. 

As you and the commissary will be in the rear of the 
whole, the nine-months men, worse shod than the other 
troops, may serve till I have more leisure to complete your 

Don't omit sending to me all the newspapers you can pro- 
cure. I am so borne down with correspondence, that I can 
only add that 

I am your affectionate humble servant, 

Alexander M'Dougall. 

P. &, I fear the pickets from your parties are too far ad- 
vanced horn them. The distance ought not to exceed half 
a mile at night ; and the quarters of the pickets should be 
changed evexy night after dark. Frequent patrols fix)m 
each give the b^st security. 

I submit it to ^ur consideration whether it would not be 
of service to have t. quantity of old rags collected at each 
party and picket, for^e patrols to muffle their feet with in 
frosty weather when there is no snow on the ground. It 
will prevent thair being htard by the enemy, and yours wiH 
hear those of the enemy if there are any near them. 

A. M'D. 


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White Plaini, 2l8t Januarj, 1779. 

Dear Sir, 

Mr. Benjamin Sands, and three other persons from Long 
Island, banished for malepractices, wait on you with this. 
Benjamin Sands, jun. appears to be a man of good under- 
standing. He can give you a detail of their sufferings. 

Captain Black and three subalterns of Malcolm's regiment 
joined me yesterday. 

William Burtis goes imder guard to you to-morrow. Also 
a Garret Duyckman, whom I took upon information of Bur- 
tis. I knew of Burtis having drove cattle before the receipt 
of your letter. Of his being a spy I know nothing. Burtis 
wishes to procure favour by giving information. I enclose 
his confession to me, that you may compare it with his story 
to you. He has not told me all he knows, I am convinced. 
I can secure Elijah Purdy any time if you direct. There is 
no danger in delaying till I can hear from you. I wish to 
clear the country of these rascals. It would be of infinite 
service to hang a few up in this neighbourhood. 

The two parties from Nixon's brigade, which came under 
sergeant's last week, aire so distressed for clothes, that I am 
obhged to send them to their regiments. They came pro- 
vided but for one week. Lieutenant Wottles marches them 
up. I wish him to return with the re -enforcement. I have 
sent the corporal and sixty-nine men to Bedford. I have 
now about 170 privates. A single company, and twelve from 
Hammond's regiment, join me to-day. That is his comple- 

A commissary of hides at this place can furnish me with 


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AAA. t^tl ^ VUiUtm^ e^, (U^, 

148 icsMoiRs OF AARON BURR. [Aged 2S. 

shoes as I want them, if you will give an order for that 
purpose. He delivers none without a general order. I can 
purchase rum here at twenty dollars per gallon. There is . 
no commissary of purchases. 

There are a number of women here of bad character, 
who are continually running to New- York and back again. 
If they were men, I should flog them without mercy. 

It was the indolence of the commissary, and not the real 
scarcity of wheat, which alarmed me. I shall not trouble 
you again on the score of flour. I send you two papers by 
the sergeant 

Yours respectfully, 

A. Burr. 


PeekikiU, Jairaarjr 22, 1779. 

There are reasons, which I shall explain to yon at a 

proper time, why should not be sought after. Make 

a great noise about him ; abuse him as the vilest of horse- 
thieves, and a spy for the enemy ; but send no parties after 
him. If you are told where he is, turn oflF the matter by 
some pretext or other. Don't carry this out on party, or 
out of your quarters to any unsafe place. 
Yours affectionately, 

Alexander M'Dovgall. 

from william paterson. 

^ Januarf 27th. 

1 am at the Hermitage, my dear Burr, and cannot forbear 
writing you a few lines, although I expected, before this time, 
to have been favoured with a letter from you. Mrs. Pre- 
Tost informs me that there is the most flattering prospect of 
your soon being reinstated in your health. The intelligence 
gives me real pleasure, and the more so, because, until 
Mrs. Prevost told me, I had no idea of your disorder being 


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Aged 23.] xsMoiRS op juron buri. 149 

so rooted and dangerous. May health soon revisit you, my 
good friend ; and when it does, may it continue with you foi 
years. I am pleased with the hope of seeing you in Jersey 
early in the spring. I shall be this way again in March, 
when perhaps I shall meet you at this place. I write this 
standing in the midst of company. I am called off to 
court, and therefore, for this time, adieu. 

William Paterson. 

from major platt, aid to general m^douoall. 

PeektkiU, January 28th, 1779. 


Captain Wiley, of Leamed's brigade, will hand you this^ 
He brings with him forty men, I believe as good as any in 
the army. 'Tis the general's intention that Nixon's, Pat^ 
erson's, and the late Leamed's brigades, shall each furnish 
a party of sixty. You will please, after selecting the best 
men for your parties, to order all the rest (save your own 
and commissary's guard) to join their corps, as they com- 
plain the duty is hard above. Either Captain Williams or 
Spur must leave you, as Captain Wiley will command the 
party from Leamed's. If there are three subs for each party 
exclusive of those from your own regiment, you can detain 
the whole of the subs of other brigades or not, as you like^ 

Kearsley has not yet joined. The general will review 
all your letters in a day or two, and give them full answers. 
I am your most obedient servant, 

Richard Platt, Aid-de-camp. 


White Ftamsy Januaiy 29th, 1779. 

Dear Sir, 

I had this day the favour of yours by Lieutenant Rost. 

The same gentleman brought me a re-enforcement of 

thirty-nine privates, and a proportion of officers. This tn* 

ftblQS me to send to camp a few of the worst provided of 


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the nine-months men. The returning party takes up the 
prisoners mentioned in my last, and a deserter. Two 
more of Makohn's officers have joined me. 

I enclose you a copy of a letter from Colonel Holdridge. 
The enterprise appears to me something romantic ; but I 
have acquainted Colonel Holdridge of the steps I shall take 
should it prove serious, and have appointed a place near 
this to meet him, if he thinks it necessary. The number, 
disposition, and apparent intentions of the enemy will point 
out our duty. I am this evening told, by good authority, 
that Emerick is re-enforced, either by volimteer or enlisted 
refugees, to the amount of 4 or 600, and that there are 
strong symptoms of an excursion. I shall pay due atten- 
tion to these reports and authorities. 

These two days past I have taken a particular view of 
the country and roads from White Plains to Mamaroneck, 
Rye, and Sawpits. I find it much easier protected, and 
more secure, than the western part of this county. From 
the Brcmx to Mamaroneck river, through White Plains, is 
three miles. There are very few fords or bridges on either 
of those rivers. Might it not be of service to draw a line, 
if but for a few days, from Bronx to Rye, or Mamaro- 
neck ? The Purchase would be certainly a ridiculous post. 

7he map is herewith sent. Lieutenant Chatbum, who 
has business at West Point, will deliver this. 

Yours respectfully, 

A. Burr. 


HMclqaarten, PeekskiU, 6th Febraaiy, 1779. 

Mt dear Sir, 

I have devoted part of this night to review your letters, 
and to give them some kind of answers. I can only men- 
tion ideas. I leave you to dilate them. 

The bearer is one of the sentries who was partly the 
occasion of the late misfortune. I have reproved them 


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Aged 23.] MBMoiJis of aaron burr. 151 

severely, which I hope will have the desired effect. For 
the future, order the sentry who does not fire the alarm one 
hundred lashes, and the Uke number to any who shall part 
with his arms without its being wrested from him by the 
enemy ; and a reward of twenty dollars to any non-com- 
missioned officer or soldier who shall bring in such arms. 
Publish this in orders. 

I am fully sensible of your embarrassments and difficul- 
ties, for want of vigilant officers and discipline. Be it your 
honour to surmoimt them. Accept of my thanks for your 
attention to the service. Order one pound and a half of 
flour or bread, and the iike quantity of meat, to each man, 
till the first of April. The duty is bard, and exercise in- 
creases the appetite. Will it not advance the service to 
send you down some biscuit ? Give Commissary Leake no 
rest without vegetables. His guard will be reUeved by a 
militia one. How many sergeants' parties have you ? Your 
guard and that of the commissary will be taken from the 
brigades, as 120 from Paterson's is to 60 from the others. In 
returns, designate the strength from each brigade. The re- 
giments whose men have no bayonets, some means will be ' 
devised to furnish them. Heavy packs should not be at the 
stated quarters. Fix a day beforehand when you will hear 
the complaints of the disaffected. If any come on other 
days, give them thirty-nine lashes first ; wait the effecu of 
this discipline. 

The oath of allegiance is no criterion of characters, nor 
the want of a certificate thereof an evidence of a person's be* 
ing disaffected. Uniform character is the best rule to judge. 
Send up under guard all women who stroll to New- York 
without leave. But caus6 them to be well searched by ma- 
trons for papers immediately when they are taken ; hair, 
caps, stays, and its lining, should be well examined. Do the 
like to those going down. Send up the evidences against 
Bettice. I approve your manner of treating Captain Will- 
iams, I did not yet mtend the hard money taken by him 


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152 MEMOIRS OF AARONs BURR. [Aged 23. 

should be distributed. But, if it is done, let it remain so. 
In future, no hard money should be distributed. You will 
see the use I intend it for in a few days. I am sure it will 
divert you. I hope soon to make up another party of sixty. 
If Lieutenant Freeman is not returned to you, I shall send 
for him. Are the wagons you mentioned some time ago re- 
turned ? What is become of the rifles ? I want them much 
for the servants who go out with me on horseback. All re- 
turning parties should march together till they arrive at the 
cantonment of the first corps, then with their respective offi- 
cers. This will prevent disorders. 

After rain or snow, I wish you to inspect the arms, and 
order them, in your presence, to discharge them at a mark. 
The few cartridges spent in this way will be well disposed 
of. Colonel Putnam is marched to the mouth of Croton. 
Greaton's, in two or three days, moves near Pine's bridge 
on that river. I think the present scarcity of bread will 
prevent a movement of the enemy with regular troops. 
Major-general Putnam is right in having the militia of 
Fairfield ready, if it has not the efifect on them, like that of 
the boy and the wolf in the fable. If Ensign Leeland is 
still on the lines, send him up as an evidence against Cap- 
tain Brown. 

A sea-captain, who, with three others, made their escape 
from New- York the night of the 4th instant, says fourteen 
sail of the Cork fleet had arrived last Sunday. 
I am your afiectionate 

Alexander M'Douoall. 


Headquarters, Peekskill, 7th February, 1779. 

Mt dear Sir, 

I directed Major Piatt, some days since, to inform you, 

no provision of any kind should be sufiered to go below you 

till further orders. Please to announce this to the justices. 

Yon have herewith a flag; fill up the blank. On its return. 


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la^ 7> Z4 Uv l^ ^, tO Irt ^Ctud^\^ 

Aged 23.] MBMOIE8 of AARON BQJtE. 153 

desire the officer to call at Colonel Phillips's for any papers 
or catalogues of books which may be left there for me, 
Tlie letter to Mr. Delancey to be left with the enemy's offi-« 
cer on his advanced post. Cast your mind on the best 
means of sweeping Westchester and West Farms of the 
tories when it is good sledding, supposing two regiments to 
coyer you. But this imder the rose. 

Gonsalez Manuel, the bearer of this, brings with him 
John Broughton, a pris<mer of war, who is exchanged. You 
will please to order him kept at a convenient distance in the 
rear till the flag goes in, when he is to be sent and delivered 
to the commanding officer of the advanced post. A receipt 
must be taken for him and transmitted to me. 

Albxandbr M'Dot7gall« 

FROM major PLATT. 

Peekdull, Fabraarj 23d, 1779, 

Dbar Bitrr, . 

In yours of yesterday you requested particular care o^ 
the enclosed, but there was none. Malcolm left this ye8ter« 
day for Haverstraw. He intends, with Major Pawling, to 
pay you a visit by water, and perhaps it will be to-day. I 
think there is some probability of his relieving you. At any 
rate, you will be relieved by the time you wish. 

As the general vnites fully by this conveyance, I shall 
not be so particular as I otherwise would. Cammell will 
be down shortly to pay off accounts. One dollar per day is 
allowed for a saddle-horse. Your certificates to the Vai^ 
Warts will entitle them to their pay, be it what it may. 

The general has ordered Williams and Wattles to return 
the hard money to him. It will be put in your hands. 
Love to Roger, when he comes. Compliments to Malcolm's 
lads and Benson. 

With singular affection, 

R, Pl^ATTt 

Vol. L— U 7* 


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uX ^yJ^ ^'^^ -^^"^^^ «^ J^-^u^ . f juL 



Headqaarten, 23d February, 1779. 

Mt dear Sir, 
Your several favours have been handed to me. I have 
not time now to ansvirer them fully. It virill, however, be 
done by Major Hull, who is ordered down to assist you. 
All your wishes will be gratified. One hundred and twenty 
picked men, with bayonets, will reach you to-morrow. 
Send your commissary up for rum. Let him call on me. 
I am yours, 

Alexander M'Dougall. 

Headqaarten, 15th Febmary, 1779. 

Your favour of the 12th came to hand with the prisoners. 
I have long knovm Ackerly was up, and his business, but 
did not think his present situation of sufficient importance 
to have him taken by K. Mr. Piatt will inform you how 
I intend to supply you with bayonets. He reached you, 
I suppose, yesterday evening. I intend to send dovm the 
remains of Colonel Poor's regiment for a few days, to 
cover a forage making by Mr. Hayes near Mamaroneck ; 
and shall send by them public arms, with bayonets, to be ex- 
changed for yours which want them. No good officer or 
man now below with you must be relieved till further or- 
ders. Give the officers of Poor's all the advice and assist- 
ance you can. The money taken from Ketor will be divi- 
ded among the officers and men in such maimer as you 
think proper. I shall send them down six for one when I 
can raise cash. Greaton's is at Pine bridge. Nixon moves 
in two days to support Putnam. The stated express is on 
this side Croton, at his own house. His name is John 
Cross, a refugee from New-York. Give me the earliest ad- 
vice of any appearance of a movement of the enemy on the 


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Aged 23.] MEMOIRS of aa&on burr. ^ 155 f% . i^ 

river. Mrs. Pollock was detained with the late bad weather 
two nights. She left this at eight this morning. 
I am, sir, yours, &c., 

Alexander M'Dougall. 


Headquarters, 25th February, 1779. 


The general wishes you to detain the best officers and 
men, for five complete parties of sixty: and, as soon as 
Major Hull can be made acquainted with your posts, and 
the nature of your command, he desires you will ride up to 
headquarters if there is no probability of a movement from 
below, and he will concert with you such measures^s sfiall 
be thought expedient. 

The combustible balls are not yet come to hand. Five 
or six boxes of ammunition will be sent down to Tarrytown 
by water the first opportimity. 'Tis necessary that Dr 
Eustis, if not at the Plains, should be sent for. 
I am your obedient servant, 

Richard Platt, Aid-de-camp. 

P. S. — ^Please to inform the general whether Colonel 
Poor's men have accompUshed the business they w6re sent 
upon or not. 


Headquarters, PeekskiU, 26th February, 1779. 

I received your letter of this day. Colonel Putnam is 
ordered to march and join you, and to act as circumstances 
shall cast up. Five boxes of ammunition are ordered to be 
carried to you immediately from King's ferry, by water. 
Leave a small party to receive it, and a cart to carry it 
where you shall order it. As the strength of the enemy is 
not mentioned, I can give no other orders. 
Yours, &c., 

Alexander M'Dougall. 


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156 MEMOIRS or AA&ON BURR. [Aged 2& 


HMdqiQtitera, 27th Febniaiy, 1779. 

Mt dear Sir, 
Your favour of yesterday reached me at 8 P. M. It 
was immediately answered. Colonel Putnam was ordered 
to march and join you ; he has taken Nixon's regiment with 
him. Greaton's was put in motion at the sa(ne time, to 
join the brigade, if the enemy did not continue to advance 
in Connecticut. At half past ten of the same evening, five 
boxes of anamunition was sent to you from King's ferry, by 
water, with orders to keep close in shore, for fear of acci- 
dettts. I hope it has reached you. Your letter of this day, 
4kt 7 A.M., came to hand an hour ago. From the reputed 
strength of the enemy, I am pleased with your position. I 
think it promises success and laurels. I hope Bearmore 
will smart for his temerity. You are all too remote from 
me to render cmlers expedient. Circumstances must direct 
your movements. If the enemy move, or appear in force 
on the river, or a movement on it in force shouki apparently 
be intended, send up all Paterson's detachments by forced 
marches. I commit you and your corps to the Lord of 
Hosts. Greaton has four boxes of spare anomuniticm. He 
will be on the North Castle road to the Plains. 
Yours affectionately, 

Alexander M'Dougall. 

FROM general m'dOUGALL. 

HeadqnarteTB, Feekskill, (Mh March, 1779. 


This will be delivered to you by Mr. John Pine, who 
acted last campaign as a horse-guide. He is a true friend 
to the country. Whenever he shall get properly mounted, 
and reports himself to you for service, give him a certificate 
of the day, and employ him. 

Enclosed you have a list of horse-thieves and others who 


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Aged 23.] MBM0U18 of aaron mwR. 157 

act yery prejudicial to our cause. I vnah to haye them 
taken and sent up here. Perhaps it will be most eligible 
to make the attempt oa all at the same time. But I do not 
wish to retard the forage on your left, as those posts are in 
great want of that article. 

I am, sir, your humble seryant, 

Alexander M'Douoall. 

from general putnam. 

Camp, Hone Neck, Mh Much, 1779. 


I haye receiyed a letter from Colonel Emerick (British), 
informing me that one Butler, who has been a prisoner in 
New-York, being unable to trayel on foot, obtained of Colo- 
nel Emerick a dragoon and two horses to conduct him some 
part of his way in the country. That Butler made the drar 
goon drunk, then brought him o£f, together with the horses. 
The whole of which he, in his letter, makes a demand to be 

Colonel Emerick has been misinformed as to Buder's 
acting so faithless. The truth of the matter is, that Butler 
wanted the dragoon to return with the horses, but that he 
(the dragoon) refused to do, and swore he would neyer re- 
turn. I would adyise you by all means to send the dragoon 
to Colonel Emerick in irons, together with the horses, as a 
refusal would be contrary to all public faith. 
I am, with the greatest respect, 

Israel Putnam. 


Hetdqiuurten, PeekskiU, 11th Maich, 1779. 

Yours of the 9th has reached me. If the militia of Colo- 
nel Drake's are good men, arm them of General Paterson's, 
and I will replace them to him. Take the receipts of eyery 
man who shall be armed by the public, and send them to 


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[Aged 23. 

The old general is not a civilian. Send Colonel Emerick 
the enclosed copy of the horseman's deposition. Stop no 
provisions, when small quantities answer for the purpose 

of . The plunderers will be punished on the lines, but 

tried here. The names of the witnesses are wanting. 
What you wrote for, to answer certain purposes, shall be 
collected as soon as possible. 

Give me the true history of the facts relative to the mare 
sold by Wattles. He quibbles. Did he know the printed 
orders ? — was she sold conformable ? The paymasters will 
be ordered down, and soap shall be sent. 
In haste, yours, &c., 

Alexander M'Dovoall. 

The preceding correspondence is evidence of the military 
character of Colonel Burr, and his standing with General 
M'Dougall. Although his rank was only that of a lieutenant- 
colonel, yet he was constantly in the actual command of a 
regiment, and frequently of a brigade. His seniors were 
withdrawn from the post (which was generally a post of 
danger) where he was stationed; or detachments were 
taken from different regiments so as to make up for him a 
separate and independent command. No jnan had a better 
opportunity than Samuel Young, Esq., of knowing Colonel 
Burr's habits and conduct while stationed in Westchester. 
Mr. Young was at one time a member of the state legisla- 
ture, and for many years surrogate of the county. The 
following letter contains some interesting details. 

^ Mount Pleasant (Westchester), 25th January, 1814. 

Dear Sir, 

Your letter of the 30th ultimo, asking for some account 

of the campaign in which I served, imder the conunand of 

Colonel Burr, during the revolutionary war, was received 

some days ago, and has been constantly in my mind. I 


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Aged 23.] MEMOIRS op aaron bitrr. Id9 

will reply to it with pleasure, but the compass of a letter 
will not admit of much detail. 

I resided in the lines from the commencement of the 
revolution imtil the winter of the year 1780, when my 
father's house was burnt, by order of the British general. 
The county of Westchester, very soon after the commence- 
ment of hostilities, became, on account of its exposed 
situation, a scene of deepest distress. From the Croton to 
Kingsbridge, every species of rapine apd lawless violence 
prevailed. No man went to his bed but under the appre- 
hension of having his house plundered or burnt, or him- 
self or family, massacred, before morning. Some, under 
the character of whigs, plundered the tories ; while others, 
of the latter description, plundered the whigs. Parties of 
marauders, assuming either character or none, as suited 
their convenience, indiscriminately assailed both whigs and 
tories. So little vigilance was used on our part, that emish 
saries and spies of the enemy passed and repassed without 

These calamities continued imdiminished imtil the arri- 
ybI of Colonel Burr, in the autumn of the year 1778. He \ 
took command of the same troops which his predecessor, j 
Colonel Littlefield, commanded. At the moment of Col- * 
onel Burr's arrival. Colonel Littlefield* had returned from a / 
plundering expedition (for to plunder those called tories ;' ^^ 
was then deemed lawful), and had brought up horses, cat- j "^"^ 
tie, bedding, clothing, and other articles of easy transporta- \ i ^|^n 
tion, which he had proposed to distribute among the party * 
the next day. Colonel Burr's first act of authority was to 
seize and secure all this plunder ; and he inmiediately took 
measures for restoring it to the ovmers. This gave us 
much trouble, but it was abundantly repaid by the confi- I 
dence it inspired. 

He then made known his determination to suppress plua- 

* See page 14M, 



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dering. The same day he visited all the guards ; chan- 
ged their position ; dismissed some- of the officers, whom 
he fomid totally incompetent ; gave new instructions. On 
the same day, also, he commenced a register of the names 
and characters of all who resided near and below his guards. 
Distinguished by secret marks the whig, the timid whig, 
the tory,lhe hdrse-thief, and those concerned in, or suspect- 
ed of, giving information to the enemy. He also began a 
map of the country, in the vicinity of the fort ; of the roads, 
by-roads, paths, creeks, morasses, &c., which might become 
hiding-places for the disaffected or for marauding parties. 
This map was made by Colonel Burr himself, from such 
materials as he could collect on the spot, but principally 
from his own observation. 

He raised and estabhshed a corps of horsemen from 
among the respectable fanners and young men of the coun- 
try, of tried patriotism, fideUty, and courage. These also 
served as aids and confidential persons for the transmission 
of orders. To this corps I attached myself as a volunteer, 
but did not receive pay. He employed discreet and faith- 
ful persons, living near the enemy's lines, to watch their 
motions, and give him immediate inteUigence. He em-* 
ployed mounted videttes for the same purpose, directing 
two of them to proceed, together, so that one might be de- 
spatched, if necessary, with information to the colonel, while 
the other might watch the enemy's movement. He estab- 
lished signals throughout the lines, so that, whether by 
night or by day, instant notice could be had of an attack or 
movement of the enemy. He enforced various regulations 
for concealing his positions and force from the enemy. 

The laxity of disciphne which had before prevailed en- 
abled the enemy frequently to employ their emissaries to 
come within the hues, and to learn the precise state of our 
forces, supplies, &c. Colonel Burr soon put an end to 
these dangerous intrusions, by prohibiting all persons resi* 
ding below the lines, except a few whom he selected, such 


ized by Google 

Aged 23.] MEMOIRS of aarom burr. 161 

as Parson Bartow, Jacob Smith, and others, whose integ- 
rity was unimpeachable, from approaching the outposts, 
without special permission for the purpose. If any one had 
a complaint or request to make of the colonel, he procured 
one or more of the persons he had selected to come to bis 
quarters on his behalf. This measme prevented fidvolous 
and vexatious applications, and the still more dangerous ap- 
proach of enemies in disguise. All these measures were 
entirely new ; and, within eight or ten days, the whole sys- 
tem appeared to be in complete operation, and the face of 
things was totally changed. 

A few days after the colonel's arrival, the house of one 
Gedney was plundered in the night, and the family abused 
and terrified. Gedney sent his son to make a representa- 
tion of it to the colonel. The young man, n(rt regarding the 
orders which had been issued, came to the colonel's quar- 
ters, undiscovered by the sentinels, having taken a secret 
path through the fields for the purpose. For this violation ^ ^ 
of orders the yoimg man was punished. The colonel imme- 1-^ 
diately took measures for the detection of the plunderers ; 
and though they were all disguised, and wholly unknown to 
Gedney, yet Colonel Burr, by means which were never yet 
disclosed, discovered the plunderers, and had them all secured 
within twenty-four hours. Gedney's family, on reference to 
his register, appeared to be tories ; but Burr had promised 
that every quiet man should be protected. 

He caused the robbers to be conveyed to Gedney's house, 
under the charge of Captain Benson, there to restore the 
booty they had taken, to make reparation in money for 
such articles as were lost or damaged, and for the alarm and 
abuse, the amount of which the colonel assessed, to be 
flogged ten lashes, and to ask pardon of the old man ; all 
which was faithfully and immediately executed. 

These measures gave universal satisfaction, and the ter- 
ror they inspired effectually prevented a repetition of simi- 
lar depredations. From this day plundering ceased. No 

Vol. I.— X 



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-^^ %^ • VJVrh ^^}- i^hx^^ . t-vbtkb . 







[Aged 23. 

further instance occurred during the time of Colonel Burr's 
command, for it was uniyersally behoved that Coldnel Burr 
could tell a robber by looking in his face, or that he had su- 
pernatural means of discovering crime. Indeed, I was my- 
self inclined to these opinions. This behef was confirmed 
by another circumstance which had previously occurred. 
On the day of his arrival, after our return from visiting the 
posts, conversing with several of his attendants, and, among 
others. Lieutenant Drake, whom Burr had brouglu with him 
from his own regiment, he said, " Drake, that post on the 
North river will be attacked before morning ; neither offi- 
cers nor men know any thing of their duty ; you must go and 
take charge of it ; keep your eyes open, or you will have 
your throat cut." Drake went. The post was attacked 
that night by a company of horse. They were repulsed 
with loss. Drake returned in the morning with trophies of 
war, and told his story. We stared, and asked one another 
— How could Burr know that ? He had not then established 
any means of intelligence. 

The measures immediately adopted by him were such 
that it was impossible for the enemy to have passed their 
own lines without his having inmiediate knowledge ; and it 
was these v^ measures which saved Major Hull, on whom 
the command devolved for a short time, when the state of 
Colonel Burr's health compelled him to retire. 

These measures, together with the deportment of Colonel 
Burr, gained him the lov€ and veneration of all devoted to 
the common cause, and conciliated even its bitterest foes. 
His habits were a subject of admiration. His diet was sim- 
ple and spare in the extreme. Seldom sleeping more than 
an hour at a time, and without taking off his clothes, or even 
his boots. . 

Between midnight and two o'clock in the morning, ac- 
companied by two or three of his corps of horsemen, he vis- 
ited the quarters of all his captains, and their picket-guards, 
changing his route from time to time to prevent 'notice of 


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Aged 23.] 



his approach. You may judge of the severity of this duty, 
when I assure you that the distance which he thus rode 
every night must have been from sixteen to twenty-four 
miles ; and that, with the exception of two nights only, in 
which he was otherwise engaged, he never omitted these ex- 
cursions, even in the severest and most stormy weather ; and, 
except the short time necessarily consumed in hearing and 
answering complaints and petitions from persons both above 
and below the Unes, Colonel Burr was constantly with the 
troops. I 

He attended to the minutest article of their comfort ; to i 
their lodgings ; to their diet : for those off duty he invented ' 
sports, all tending to some useful end. During two or three 
weeks after the colonel's arrival, we had many sharp con- 
flicts with the robbers and horse-thieves, who were hunted 
down with imceasing industry. In many instances we en- 
countered great superiority of numbers, but always with 
success. Many of them were killed, and many were taken. 
The strictest discipline prevailed, and the army felt the 
fullest confidence in their commander and in themselves, 
and by these means became really formidable to the enemy. 
During the same winter. Governor Tryon planned an expe- 
dition to Horse Neck, for the purpose of destroying the salt- 
works erected there, and marched with about 2000 men. 
Colonel Burr received early information of their movements, 
and sent word to General Putnam to hold the enemy at bay 
for a few hours, and he (Colonel Burr) would be in their 
rear and be answerable for them. By a messenger from 
him, Colonel Burr was informed by that general that he had 
been obliged to retreat, and that the enemy were advancing 
into Connecticut. This information, which unfortimately was 
not correct, altered Colonel Burr's route towards Mamaro- 
neck, which enabled Tryon to get the start of him. Colonel 
Burr then endeavoured to interrupt him in Eastchester, ac* 
cording to his first plan, and actudly got within cannon-^hot 
of hijh ; but Tryon ran too fast, and in his haste left most or 




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all of his cattle and plunder behind him, and many stragglers, 
who were picked up. 

I will mention another enterprise, which proved more suc- 
cessful, though equally hazardous. Soon after Tryon's re- 
treat, Colonel Delancey, who commanded the British refu- 
gees, in order to secure themselves against surprise, erected 
a block-house on a rising ground below Delancey's bridge. 
This Colonel Burr resolved to destroy. I was in that expe- 
dition, and recollect the circumstances. 

He procured a number of hand-grenades,, also rolls of 
port-fire, and canteens filled with inflammable materials, with 
contrivances to attach them to the side of the block-house. 
He set out with his troops early in the evening, and arrived 
within a mile of the block-house by two o'clock in the 
morning. The colonel gave Captain Black the command 
of about forty volunteers, who were first to approach. 
Twenty of them were to carry the port-fires, &c., &c. 
Those who had hand-grenades had short ladders to enable 
them to reach the port-holes, the exact height of which 
Colonel Burr had ascertained. Colonel Burr gave Captain 
Black his instructions, in the hearing of his company, as- 
suring him of his protection if they were attacked by su- 
perior numbers ; for it was expected that the enetny, who 
had several thousand men at and near Kingsbridge, would 
endeavour to cut us off, as we were several miles below 
them. Burr directed those who carried the combustibles 
to march in front as silently as possible. That, on being 
hailed, they should light the hand-grenades, &c., with a slow 
match provided for the purpose, and throw them into the 
port-holes. I was one of the party that advanced. The 
sentinel hailed and fired. We rushed on. The first hand- 
grenade that was throvni in drove the enemy from the upper 
story, and before they could take any measure to defend it, 
the block-house was on fire in several places. Some few 
escaped, and the rest surrendered without our having lost a 
single man. Though many shot were fired a( us, vire did 
not fire a gun. 


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Aged 23.] MEMOIRS of aa&on burr* 166 

During the period of Colonel Burr's command, but two 
attempts were made by the enemy to surprise our guards, 
in both of which they were defeated. 

After Colonel Burr left this command, Colonel Thomp- 
son, a man of approved bravery, assumed it, and the enemy, 
in open day, advanced to his headquarters, took Colonel 
Thompson, and took or killed all his men, with the except 
tion of about thirty. 

My father's house, with all his outhouses, were humL 
After these disasters our troops never made an effort to pro- 
tect that part of the country. The^ American lines were 
afterwards changed, and extended from Bedford to Crotcm 
bridge, and from there, foUovring the course of that river, to 
the Hudson. All the intermediate country was abandoned 
and unprotected, being about twenty miles in the rear of the 
ground which Colonel Burr had maintained. 

The year after the defeat of Colonel Thompson, Colonel 
Green, a brave, and in many respects a valuable officer, took 
the command, making his headquarters at Danford's, about 
a mile above the Croton. This position was well chosen. 
But Colonel Green omitted to inform himself of the move- 
ments of the enemy, and consequently was surprised. 
Himself, Major Flagg, and other officers were killed, and a 
great part of the men were either killed or taken prisoners : 
yet these officers had the full benefit of Colonel Burr's sys- 

Having perused what I have written, it does not appeal 
to me that I have conveyed any adequate idea of Burr's 
military character. It may be aided a litde by reviewing 
the effects he {produced. The troops of whidi he took com- 
mand were, at the time he took the command, undisciplined, 
negligent, and discontented. Desertions were frequent. In 
a few days these very men were transformed into brave and 
honest defenders; orderly, contented, and cheerful; con- [ I \ f 
fident in their own courage, and loving to adoration their jj I )r^J 
commander, whom every man considered as his personal * * j 



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[Aged 23. 

friend. It was thought a severe punishment, as well as dis- 
grace, to be sent up to the camp, where they had nothing to 
do but to lounge and eat their rations. 
• During the whole of this conunand there was not a single 
desertion. Not a single death by sickness. Not one made 
prisoner by the enemy ; for Burr had taught us that a sol- 
dier with arms in his hand ought never, under any circum- 
stances, to surrender ; no matter if he was opposed to thou- 
sands, it was his duty to fight 

After the first ten days there was not a single instance of 
robbery. The whole country, under his command, enjoyed 
security. The inhabitants, to express their gratitude, fre- 
quently brought presents of such articles as the country 
afforded ; but Colonel Burr would accept no present. He 
fixed reasonable prices, and paid in cash for every thing 
that was received, and sometimes, I know, that these pay- 
ments were made with his own money. Whether these 
advances were repaid, I know not. 

Colonel Simcoe, one of the most daring and active parti- 
sans in the British army, was, with Colonels Emerick and 
Delancey, opposed to Burr on the lines, yet they were com- 
pletely held in check. 

But perhaps the highest eulogy on Colonel Burr is, that 
no man could be found capable of executing his plans, 
though the example was before them. 

When Burr left the lines a sadness overspread the coun- 
try, and the most gloomy forebodings were too soon fulfilled, 
as you have seen above. 

The period of Cdonel Burr's command was so full of ac- 
tivity and of incident, that every day afforded some new 
lesson of instruction. But you will expect only a general 
outline, and this faint one is the best in my power to give. 

With esteem, yours, 

Samuel Young. 


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JL %KrX^i^, 




The military career of Colonel Burr was now drawing 
to a close. The state of his health became alarming. His 
constitution was shattered. His medical and other friends 
were of the opinion that he was incapable of enduring the 
fatigues of another campaign. In the judgment and talents 
of Dr. Eustis he reposed great confidence. That gentle- 
man pressed upon him, in a manner the most affectionate, 
the necessity for his retiring. The sacrifice required of 
Burr was inconceivably great. All his views and feelings 
were military. He seemed as though he was bom a soldier. 
He was ambitious of fame in his profession. He had ac-> 
quired a character for vigilance and intrepidity unrivalled in . 
the army. He was more than respected by his brother offi- i 
cers, and idolized by the troops. As a man and a citizen, 
h© was exceedingly disliked by General Washington. \ , 
Causes, unnecessary to examine at this late period of time, t 
had created between these gentlemen feehngs of hostility 
that were unconquerable, and were never softened or molli- 
fied. Yet even General Washington, while he considered 
Burr destitute of morals and of principle, respected him as 
a soldier, and gave repeated evidence of entire confidence 
in his gallantry, his persevering industry, his judgment, and 
his discretion. At length, however, protracted disease com- 
pelled him to abandon all those hopes of glory, nobly won 
in the battle-field, which had inflamed his ardent and youth- 
ful mind; and on the 10th of March, 1779, he tendered to 
the commander-in-chief his resignation. 






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[Aged 23. 


Phillipsborgh, lOth March, 1779. 


The reasons I did myself the honour to mention to your 
excellency in a letter of September last still exist, and de- 
termine me to resign my rank and command in the army. 

The polite indulgence you favoured me with at that time 
restored temporarily my health. At the instance of Gen- 
eral M'Dougall, I accepted the command of these posts ; 
but I find my health unequal to the undertaking, and have 
acquainted him of my intentions to retire. He has ordered 
an officer to relieve me before the 15th of March, on which 
day I purpose to leave this command and the army. 

Very respectfully, 

A. Burr. 



Middlebrook, 3d April, 1779. 

I have to acknowledge your favour of the 10th ultimo. 
Perfectly satisfied that no consideration save a desire to re- 
establish your health could induce you to leave the service, I 
cannot therefore withhold my consent. But, in giving per- 
mission to your retiring from the army, I am not only to re- 
gret the loss of a good officer, but the cause which makes 
his resignation necessary. When it is convenient to trans- 
mit the settlement of your public accounts, it will receive 
my final acceptance. 

I am, &c., 

George Washington. 

A few days previous to Colonel Burr's resignation of his 
commission, he received from the widow of General Mont- 
gomery the following letter : — 


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Aged 28*] xsMouis or aaron burr. 169 


Rhioebeck, 7th March, 1779. 


I should before this have answered your obliging letter, 
had not the marriage of my eldest sister entirely taken up 
my time. I now return you, sir, many thanks for your kind 
offers of service. The sincerity with which they were 
made would have allowed me to accept them, without fears 
of giving you trouble, had I not detennined to run no more 
risks, as I have been very unfortunate in my ventures that 

You have awakened all my sensibility by the praises you 
bestow on my unfortunate general. He was, indeed, an 
angel sent us for a moment. Alas ! for me, that this world 
was not more worthy of him — ^then had I still been the hap* 
piest of wpmen, and his friends in stations more equal to 
their own merits. Reflections like these imbitter continu-^ 
ally each day as it passes. But I trust in the same merci* 
ful Hand which has held me from sinking in my extreme 
calamity, that he vnll still support and make me worthy of 
a blessed meeting hereafter. Can you excuse, sir, the over- 
flowing of a heart that knows not where to stop when on a 
subject so interesting ? 

Mr. Tutard tells me you mean to quit the service. When- 
ever that happens, you vnll doubtless have leisure to pay us 
a visit, which I wish you to believe will give real pleasure to, 

Sir, your obliged 



The Ponb^ 18th ICttth, 1779. 

Mt dear Burr, 

I came to this place yesterday in the afternoon, and re* 
gret extremely that I did not arrive earlier in the day^ as I 
should have received your letter. My stay here vnll be un- 

VoL. I.— Y 8 


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170 MiMoiKS or AAROK BURE. [Aged 39. 

certain. At home I must be by the beginning of April. I 
should be happy in seeing you hefore my return, but how to 
effect it is the question. If I could possibly disengage my- 
self from business, I would take a ride to Paramus. My 
best respects await on Mrs. Prerost; and every thing you 
think proper to the mistress of your affections. 

I am married, Burr, and happy. May you be equally so. 
I cannot form a higher or abetter wish. You know I should 
rejoice to meet you. Tell Mrs. Prevost that I shall take it 
unkindly if she does not call upon me whenever she thinks 
I can be of any service to her. To obUge her w^ give me 
pleasure for her own sake, and double pleasure for yours. 
This is a strange, unconnected scroll ; you have it as it 

I congratulate you on your return to civil IHe, for which 
(I cannot forbear the thought) we must thank a certain lady 
not hx from Paramus. May I have occasion soon to thank 
her on another account ; and may I congratulate you both 
in the course of the next n^oon for being in my line : I 
mean the married. Adieu. 

I am,most sincerely yours, 



HeMiqpMitan^ PMlukfll, SOOi Mttdi, 1779. 

My hie intelligence btaa New^Yoric and headquartaw 
clearly mark the enemy's intention to make a movement very 
soon. Whether it is intended against the grand army, these 
posts, or New-London, time only can determine. It is, 
however, our duty to be prepared. As a few days will open 
up his views, / imagi»e you do not think of quitting the 
ground when business is to be done. Should the enemy 
mofve up the river in force, his thieves wiU be very busy 
behxw. Colonel Hammond's regiment, on such an event, is 
to renudn there ; and one hundred rank and file of continental 


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Aged 23.] MsxoiKs or aaroic bvkr. 171 

troops only are to keep them in coimtenance. The reflt, 
imder charge of officers, to be sent up to join their corps. 

You know the state of forage at this post. I wish you 
would make an exertion to your left in front, to secure all 
you can for us ; as much as will consist with the safety of 
your party, and covering to the rebels at Tarrytown. Send 
for Haynes and his assistant, and keep them on the ^ound 
till they secure all that is practicable to be got from your 
left The weather has been so stormy and uncertain, the 

are not yet sent for. To-morrow morning it will be 

done. Please to attend to the enclosed order respecting 
provisions. Late Leamed's is moved to West Point. 

Major Hull's, of the 19th, is this UMnnent received, and will 
be attended to. I wish Captain Kearsley, Liei^nants 
Hunter and Lawrence, to be sent to their regiments when 
Golonet Burr has finished what he intends. They are much 
wanteds Note die contents of the enclosed resolve. 
Yours, very respectfully, 


It has be^i seen that Gdonel Burr, while he cesmuoided 
at White Plains, on the frontier, not only kept the adjacent 
country in a state of security, but that he kept the enemy in 
complete check. He was succeeded in his command by 
Colonel Littlefield, who was so<m captured, and the post 
abandoned. Major Hull, m a letter to Colonel Burr, dated 
the 29th of May, 1T79> says, " The ground you so long de- 
fended is now left to the depredations (f the enemy^ and 
our friends in distressing circumstances.^ 

In the beginning of June, Sir Henry Clinton captured the 
forts at Stony Point and Yerplanck's Pcmit, and threatened 
West Point His force in this direction was upwards of 
ttx thousand rank and file. The communication between 
General Washington, who was in New- Jersey, and General 
M'Dougall, who was at Newburgh, was greatly embarrassed. 
Bandits were placed by the British in or near the passes 


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17t 1IBM0IR8 OF AARON BVRfci [Aged 38. 

through the chains of mountains leading to Sussex, for the 
purpose of capturing the expresses charged with despatches. 
At this critical moment Colonel Burr was on a visit to 
M^Dougall, who informed him that he had made various un- 
successful attempts to conmnmicate with Washington, and 
that his expresses had either been captured or had de- 
serted. After apologizing to Burr, who was no longer in 
active service, the general stated the importance of the 
commander-in-chief's knowing the position and movements 
of the enemy, as well as the state of the American army. 
He then very courteously requested Burr to be the bearer of 
a verbal communication to Washington on the subject. To 
this, notwithstanding his ill health and the danger of the en- 
terprise, he assented. The mission was undertaken and 
succeeded. He was also charged at the same time with 
verbcd orders from General St. Clair, of a confidential chlur- 
acter, to officers commanding at diflferent posts. 

To whom it may concern :— 

Colonel Burr, being on urgent public business, is to be put 
across the ferry to New- Windsor without delay. Given 
this second day of June, 1T79. 

Albxander M'Dovoall, Major-general. 

To whom it may concern : — 

Colonel Burr, being on very pressing public business, 
every magistrate will assist him in changing horses, and all 
friends of the country will also assist him. June 2d, 1T79. 
Alexandbr M^Dovoall, Major-general. 

To whom it may concern : — 

Colonel Burr, being on urgent public business, must be 
put across the ferry to Fishkill landing without a moment's 
delay. Given at Pompton, 3d June, 1T79. 

Arthur St. Clair, Major-general. 


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Aged 23.] MiMoiRS of aaron buiie. 173 

To whom it may concern : — 

The quartermaster and commissary^ at Newburgh or 
New-Windsor, will receive and obsenre, as my orders, the 
verbal directions given by Colonel Burr. Given at Pomp- 
Ion, 3d June, 1779. 

Arthur St. Clair, Major-general* 

On this enterprise a mp^t amusing incident occurred. 
Colonel Burr arrived at the iron-works of the elder Towns- 
end, in Orange county, with a tired and worn-out horse* 
No other could be obtained ; but, after some detention, a 
half-broken mule, named Independence^ was procured, and 
the colcmel mounted. But Independence refused to obey 
orders, and a battle ensued. The mule ran off with his 
rider, and ascended a high bank, on the side of which stood 
a coal-house, filled with coal through an aperture in the 
top. At length, Independenccy in the hope of clearing him- 
self of his encumbrance, entered the coal-house at full 
speed, tthe colonel firmly keeping his seat, and both came 
down an inclined plane of coal, not less than thirty feet in 
height. On reaching the ground without injury. Burr hired 
a man to lead the animal a mile or two, and then again 
mounted him and pursued his journey. This scene was 
exhibited on a hot day in the month of June, amid a cloud 
of coal-dust. The anecdote Burr occasionally repeated to 
his friends, and some of the younger branches of the Towns- 
end family. 

About the first of July, 1779, Colonel Burr, then in fee- 
ble health, visited his friends in Connecticut. He was at 
New-Haven when, on the 5th of July, the British landed, 
with 2600 men, in two divisions; one under Governor 
Tryon, at East Haven, and the other under Garth, at Weal 
Haven. At East Haven, where Tryon coihmanded, great 
excesses were committed, and the town set on fire. Col- 
onel Burr was at this moment confined to his bed ; but, 
on hearing that the enemy were advancing, rose and pro* 


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174 MEMoiES or AAROK BURR. [Aged 23. 

ceeded to a part of the town where a number of persons 
had collected. He volunteered to take command of the 
militia, and made an unsuccessful attempt to rally them. 
At this moment he was informed that the students had or- 
ganized themselves, and were drawn up in the college-yard^ 
He immediately galloped to the ground, and addressed 
them ; appealing, in a few words, to their patriotism and 
love of country ; imploring them to set the example, and 
march out in the defence of those rights which would, at 
a future day, beonne dieir inheritance. All he asked was^ 
that they would receive and follow him as their leader. 

The military character of Colonel Burr was known to the 
students. They confided in his intrepidity, experience, and 
judgment. In their ranks there was no faltering. They 
promptly obeyed the summons, and volunteered. Some 
skirmishing soon ensued, and portions of the militia united 
widi them. The British, ignorant of the force that might 
be presented, retired ; but shortly returned, with several 
pieces of artillery, when a canncmading commenced, and 
die boys retreated in good order. An American historian 
says, — " The British entered the town after being much 
galled and harassed." The slight check i^hich they thus 
received afforded an opportunity for the removal of some 
valuables, and many of the women and children. 

Trifling and unimportant as this skirmishing appears to 
have been. Colonel Burr never referred to the incident but 
with exultation and pride. Perhaps no event in his military 
Kfe has he more frequently mentioned. The confidence 
evinced by these young men he considered complimentary 
to himself as a soldier ; and usuaUy alluded to the circum- 
stance as evidence of the effect which the character of an 
officer would ever have upon undisciplined men, when 
called to command them upon trying occasions. 

The following letter, written by Colonel Piatt, will close 
all that is intended to be said of Colonel Burr as a soldier. 
More space has been occupied with m account of his mili« 


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Ag6d2S.] mMOULB or aaeon inou ITS 

tiiy character than would hayo been thus occupied, if it * ^ 

was nc^ known that be felt proud of his own career as an sA \M* 
<^cer. For history Mr, Burr entertained a great contempt I \ ^*^ ^ v-c 
He confided but little in its details. These prejudicei | \rC^^ r 
were probably strengthened by the consideration that jus- 
tice, in his opinicm, had not been done to himsell 


N«w. Yatk, JaiMiit 2nit* 1814. 

DsAR Sir, 

In reply to yours of the 30ch of November last, request 
ing to be informed what was the reputation and serrices of 
Col<mel Burr during the rev^utionary wart I give yov 
the following detail of facts, which you may rely on. No 
man was better acquainted v^th him, and his military oper^ 
ations, than your humble servant, who served in that war 
from the 28th of June, 1775, till the evacuaticm of our e»fi'^ 
tal on the n^morable 25th of November, 1783; having 
passed through the grades of lieutenant, captain, major^ 
msjoi: of brigade, aid-de-camp, deputy adjutant-general, 
and deputy quaitermaster-general ; the last of which by 
selection and recommendation of Generals Greene, M^DoU^ 
gall, and Knox, in the most trying crisis of the revolution^ 
viz., the year 1780, when the continental money ceased to 
pass, and there was no other fiscal resources during that 
campaign but what resulted from the creative genius of 
Timothy Pickering, at that crisis appointed successor to 
General Greene, the second officer of the American army^ 
who resigned the department because there vras no money 
in the national coffers to carry it through the campaign, 
declaring that he could not, and would not attempt it, vritb* 
out adequate resources, such as he abounded in during the 
term of nearly three ytwm antecedently as quartermaster* 

In addition to the foregoing, by vray of elucidationi it is 


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176. MSM0IB8 or kknm buee. [Aged 23. 

to be understood by you, that so early as from the latter 
part of the year 1T76, I was always attached to a com- 
manding general ; and, in consequence, my knowledge of 
the officers and their merits was more general than that of 
almost any other in service. My operations were upon the 
extended scale, from the remotest parts of Canada, wher- 
ever the American standard had waved, to the splendid 
theatre of Yorktown, when and where I was adjutant-gen- 
eral to the chosen troops of the northern army. 

At the commencement of the revolution, Colonel Burr, 
then about eighteen years of age, at the first sound of the 
trump of war (as if bred in the camp of the great Frederick, 
whose maxim was ^' to hold his army always in readiness 
to break a lance with, or throw a dart against, any assail- 
ant"), quit his professional studies, and rushed to the camp 
of General Washington^ at Cambridge, as a volunteer; 
from which he went with Colonel Arnold on his: daring 
enterprise against Quebec, dirough the wilds of Canada 
(which vied with Hannibal's march over the AlpsX during 
which toilsome and hazardous march he attracted the atten- 
tion and admiration of his conunander so much, that hcf 
(Arnold) sent him alone to meet and hurry down General 
Montgomery's army from Montreal to his assistance; and 
rec(Mnmended him to that . general, who appointed him an 
aid*de-camp, in which capacity he acted during the winter, 
till the fatal assault on Quebec, in which that gallant gen-' 
oral, his aid McPherson, and Captain Cheeseman, com- 
manding the forlorn hope, fell. He afterwards continued 
as aid to Aindid, the survivor in command. 

Here I must begin to draw some of the outlines of his 
genius and valour, which, like those of the British inunor- 
tal> Wolf, whoy at the age of twenty-four, and only major of 
the 20th regiment, serving on the continent, gave such 
specimens of genius and talents as to evince his being 
destined for command. 

At the perilous moment of Montgomeiy's death, when di»- 


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Aged 23.] MBMoiRs or aaron bukr. 177 

may and consternation uniyersally prevailed^ and the column 
halted, he animated the troops, and made many efforts to lead 
them on ; and stimulated them to enter the lower town ; and 
might have succeeded, but for the positive orders of Colonel 
Donald Campbell, the commanding officer, for the troops to 
retreat. Had his plan been carried into effect, it might 
have saved Arnold's division from capture, which had, after 
our retreat, to contend with all the British force instead of a 
part. On this occasion I commanded the first company in 
the first New- York regiment, at the head of Ifontgomery's 
cdumn, so that I speak from ocular demonstration. 

The next campaign, 1776, Colonel Burr was appointed 
aid-de-camp to Major-general Putnam, second in command 
under General Washington at New-York; and from my 
knowledge of that general's qualities and the colonel's, I am 
very certain that the latter directed all the movements and 
operations of the former. 

In January, 1777, the continental establishment for the 
war commenced. Then Colonel Burr was appointed by 
General Washington a Heutaiant-colonel in Malcolm's regi- 
ment, in which he continued to serve until April, 1779, 
when the ill state of his health obliged him to retire from 
active service, to the regret of General M^DougaU,. com- 
manding the department, and that of the coDaanander-in* 
chief, who offered to give him a furlough for any length of 
time, and to get permission from the British general in 
New- York for him to go to Bermuda for his health. This 
item will show his value in the estimation of Generals 
Washington and M^Dougall. 

During the campaign of 1777, Malcolm's regkn^t was. 
vnth the main army, and commanded by Lieutenant-coloneL 
. Burr. For discipline, order, and system, it was not sur- 
passed by any in the service ; and eottkl hk (the h'eutenant-^ 
colonel's) and Wolfe's orderiy-books be produced, they 
would be very similar in point of military policy and ift^ 
structions, and fit models for all ve^mentSv 
Vol. I.— Z &♦ 


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178 MBMouui or AARON Bums. [Aged 29^ 

This regiment was also butted at the Valley Forge in 1777 
and winter of 1778, imder General Washington, and com- 
posedr part of his army at the battle of Monmouth on the 
28th of June, 1778, and continued with it till the close of 
the campaign of that year, at which time it was placed in 
garrison at West Point by General Gates ; but, upon Gen- 
eral M^Dougall's assmning the command of the posts in the 
highlands in December, Malcolm's, Spencer's, and Patten's 
regiments were together ordered to Haverstraw. The three 
colonels weflte permitted to go home for the winter on fur- 
lough, and Lieutenant-colonel Burr had the command of the 
wh(de brigade, at a very important advanced post. 

At this period General M^DougaU ordered a detachment 
of about tluree hundred troops, under the command of Lieu- 
tenant-colonel Littlefield, of the Massachusetts line, to guard 
the lines in Westchester county, then extending from Tarry- 
town to White Plains, and from thence to Mamaroneck or 
Sawpits, which last extension was guarded by Connecticut 
troops from Major-general Putnam'^ division. 

In this situation of affairs a very singular occurrence pre- 
sented, viz., tha^ neither Lieutenant-colonel Littlefield, nor 
any other of hii^^ade, in the two. entire brigades of Massa- 
chusetts troops c(Hnposing the garrison of West Point, from 
which the lines were to be relieved, was competent, in the 
general's estimation, to give security to the army above and 
the lines of those below ; and, in consequence, he was com- 
pelled to call Colonel Burr from his station at Haverstraw 
to the more important conunand of the lines in Westchester^ 
in which measure, imprecedented as it was, the oflScers ac- 
quiesced without a murmur, from a conviction of its expe- 
diency. At this time I was doing the duty of adjutant- 
general to General M*Dougall. 

It was on this new and interesting theatre of war that 
ibe confidence ^nd affecticms of the officers and soldiers 
(who now became permanent on the lines, instead of being 
relieved every two or three weeks^^ as before), as well as of 


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Aged23»] ifUoiRS or aasok iimft* 179 

the inhabitants, all before unknown to Colonel Burr, were 
inspired with confidence by a system of consununate skilly 
astonishing vigilance, and extreme activity, which, in like 
manner, made such an impression on the enemy, that after 
an unsuccessful attack on one of his advanced posts, he 
never made any other attack on our lines during the winter. 

His humanity, and constant regard to the security of the 
property and persons of the inhabitants from injury and in« 
suit, were not less ccaispicuous than his military skill, &«o# 
No man was insulted or disturbed. The health of the ^i rt-^* 
troops was perfect. Not a desertion during the whc^e 
period of his command, nor a man made prisoner, although 
the colonel was constantly making prisoners. 

A country, which fcnr three years before had been a scene 
of robbery, cruelty, and murder, became at once the abode 
of security and peace. Though his powers were despotic^ 
they were exercised only for the peace, the security, and 
the protection of the surrounding country and its inhabitants* 

In die vrinter of 1779, the latter part of it. Major Hull, w 
excellent officer, then in the Massachusetts line, was sent 
down as second to Colonel Burr, who, after having become 
familiarized to his system, succeeded him for a short time 
in command, about the last of April, at which time Colonel 
Burr's health would not permit him to continue in ccHumand; 
but the major was soon compelled to fall back many miles^ 
80 as to be within supporting distance of the army at the 

The severity of the service, and the azd^it and iiM^reasii^ 
activity with which he had devoted himself to his country's 
cause, for more than four jrears, having materiaUy impaired 
his health, he was compelled to leave the post and retire firom 
active service. It was two years before he regained hi* 
health. r 

Major Hull has ever since borne uniformly the most 
honouraUe testimony of the exalted talents of his com* 
mander, by declaring his gratitude for being placed under 


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180 MSM0IR8 OF AARON BURR^ [Aged 23. 

an offic^er whose system of duty was different from that of 
all other commanders under whom he had served. 

Having thus exhibited the colonel's line of march^ and his 
operations in service, I must now present him in contrast 
with his equals in rank, and his superiors in command. 

In September, 1777, the enemy came out on both sides 
of the Hudson simultiEtneously, in considerable force, say 
bom 2 to 3000 men. On the east side (at Peekskill) wa» 
a major-general of our army, with an effective force of about 
2000 men. The enemy advanced, and our general retired 
without engaging them. Our barracks and storehouses, 
and the whole village of Peekskill, were sacked and burnt,, 
and the country pillaged. 

On the west side, at the mouth of the Clove, near Suf- 
firen's, was Colonel Burr, commanding Malcolm's regiment,, 
about three hundred and fifty men. On the first alann he 
marched to find the enemy, and on the same night attadied. 
and took their picket^guard^ rallied the country, and made; 
such show of war, that the enemy retreated the next mom- 
ing, leaving behind him the cattle, horses^ and sheep he had> 


The year fbllovnng, Lieutenant^olonel Thompson was^ 
8«iit to command on the same lines in Westchester by Gen-, 
oral Heath, and he was surprised at nine or ten o'clock in. 
the day,, and made prisoner, with a great part of his detach- 

Again, in th^ succeeding winter,. Colonel Greene, of the 
Rhode Island line, with his own and ano^r Rhode Island 
regiment, who wa&a very distinguished officer^ and had with, 
these two regiments, in the year 1777, defeated the Hessian 
greniuiiers under Count Donop, at Red Banks, on the Dela- 
ware, whQwas mortally wounded and taken prisoner, com*, 
manded ob the lines in Westchester ; there receded to Fine's, 
bridge, and it^ this position Colonel Greene's troops were 
alsoi surpriised a&ei^ breakfast and dispersed,, the colonel 


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Aged 23.] MEMOIRS of aaron burr. 181 

himself and Major Flagg killed, and many soldiers made 
prisoners, besides killed and wounded. 

On the west side of the Hudson, in the year 178(>, Gen- 
eral Wayne, the hero of Stony Point, with a large com- 
mand and field artillery, made an attack on a block-house 
nearly opposite to Dobbs's ferry, defended by cowboys, and 
was repulsed with loss ; whereas Colonel Burr burnt and 
destroyed one of a similar kind, in the winter of 1779, near 
Delancey's mills, with a very few men, and without any 
loss on his part, besides capturing the garrison. 

Here, my good iriend commodore, I must drop the cur- 
tain tiB I see you in Albany, yAach will be on the first 
week in February, where I can and will couTinee you that 
he is the only man in America (that is, the United States)^ 
who is fit to be a Ueutenant-general ; and let you and I, and 
all the American people, look out for Mr. Madison's Ueuten^ 
ant-general in contrast. 

I am your firiend, 

Richard. Pultt* 


On retiring from the army, Colonel Burr visited his firiendsp 
m New-Jersey and Connecticut. He had previously deter- 
mined, as soon as his health would pennit, to commence 
the study of law. During the four years he was in public 
service, his patrimony was greatly impaired. Towards his. 
brethren in arms he had acted with Ubew^ly. Naturally of 
an improvkEent character, he adopted no means to preserve 
the property which he inherited^ The cardinal vices of 
gaming and drinking he avoided. But he was Gcentious 
ia the extreme, imd regardless of consequences^ in the gratit^ 


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1 u 

fication of his desires. His extravagance was unrestrained 
when, in his opinion, necessary to the enjoyment of his 
pleasures. From the arms of his nurse until he had num- 
bered fourscore years, he was perpetually the dupe of the 
artful and the selfish. 

Colonel Burr was about five feet six inches in height. He 
was well formed, and erect in his attitude. In all his move- 
ments there was a military air. Although of small stature^ 
yet there was about him a loftiness of mien that could not 
pass unnoticed by a stranger. His deportment was polished 
and courtly. His features were regular, and generally con- 
sidered handsome. His eye was jet black, with a brilliancy 
never surpassed. The appropriate civilities of the drawings 
room were performed with a grace almost peculiar to him- 
self. His whole manner was inconceivably fascinating. At 
a gentleman, this was his great theatre. He acted upon the 
principle that the female was the weaker sex, and that they 
were all susceptible of flattery. His great art consisted in 
adopting it to the grade of intellect he addressed. In thi» 
respect he was singularly fortunate as well as adroit. In 
matters of gallantry he was excessively vain. This vanity 
sometimes rendered him ridiculous in the eyes of his best 
friends, and often enabled the most worthless and imprinci- 
pled to take advantage of his credulity^ 

Such traits of character would appear to be incompatible 
with an elevated and towering mind ; yet they usually influ- 
enced, and frequently controlled, one of the greatest and most 
extracHrdinary men of the age. A volume of anecdotes might 
be related as evidence of Colonel Bun^s quickness of per- 
ception and tact at reply, when an ill-judged or thoughtless 
expression was addressed by him to a lady. One is sufSl- 
cient for illustration. 

After his return from Europe, in 1812, he met a maidea 
lady in Broadway somewhat advanced in life. He had not 
seen her for many years. As she passed him, she exclaimed 
to a gentleman on whose arm she was resting^ '^ Colonel 


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Aged 33.] MEMOIRS of aaron burb. 183 

Buir !" Hearing his name mentioned, he suddenly stopped 
and looked her in the face. " Colonel,** said she, " you do ' ; 
not recollect me." | 

" I do not, madam," was the reply* ; >|^ 

" It is Miss K., sir." ' ^ 

" What !" said he, " Miss K. yet r ^^.W 

The lady, somewhat piqued, reiterated, *' Yes, sir. Miss I 

K.yetr f 

Feeling the delicacy of his situation, and the unfortunate / ; 
error he had committed, he gently took her hand, and em- / 
phatically remarked, " Well, madam, then I renture to as- • 
sert that it is not the fault of my ^ea?." ' / 

On Burr's being appointed, in 1T77, a lieutenant-colonel 
in the army, he joined his regiment, then statmedat Rsuna-^ 
poa, in New-Jersey. At Paramus, not far distant, resided 
Mrs. Prevost, the wife of Colonel Prevost, of the British 
army. She was an accomplished and inteUigent lady. Hcf 
husband was with his regiment in the West Indies, where 
he died early in the revolutionary war. She had a MSter re- 
siding with her. It was her son, the Hon. John B. Pre- 
TOSt, who in 1802 was recorder of the city of New-York^ 
and subsequently district judge of the United States Court 
for the district of Louisiana. The house of Mrs. Prevost 
was the resort of the most accomplished officers in the 
American army when they were in the vicinity of it* She 
was highly respected by her neighbours, and visited by the 
most genteel people of the surrounding country. Her situ- 
ation was one of great deUcacy and constant apprehension. 

The wife of a British officer, apd connected with the ad- 
herents of the crown, naturally became an object of political 
suspicion, notwithstanding great circumspection on her part. 
Under such circumstances, a strong sympathy was excited 
in her behalf. Yet there were those among the whigs whe 
were inclined to enforce thp laws of the state against her, 
whereby she would be compelled to withdraw vrilhin the 



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184 MXM0IR8 or AARON BtTRR. [Aged SS^ 

lines of the enemy. In diis family Colonel Burr became 
intimate in 1T?7, and in 1782^married the widow Prerost. 

Philadelphia^ Norember 8th, 1778. 

A yomig lady who either is, or pretends to be, in love, is,, 
you know, my dear Mrs. Prevost, the most unreasonable 
creature in existence. If she looks a smile or a frown, which 
does not inmiediately give or depnve you of happiness (at 
least to appearance), your company soon becomes very in- 
sipid. Each feature has it& beauty, and each attitude the 
graces, or you have no judgment. But. if you are so stur 
pidly insensible of her charms as to deprive your tongue and 
eyes of every expression of admiration,, and not only to b« 
silent respecting her, but devote them to an absent objiect, 
she cannot receive a higher insult ; nor would she, if not 
restrained by politeness, refrain from open resentment. 

Upon this principle I think I stand excused for not wxi* 
ting from B. Ridge. I proposed if, however ; and„ aft^ meet- 
ing with opposition in ^ to obtain her point, she prom- 
ised to visit the little " Hermitage,"! and make my ex- 
cuse herself. I took occasion to turn the conversation to a 
different object, and plead for permission to go to France. I 
gave up in one instance, and«he certainly ought in the other. 
But writing a letter and going to France are very different, 
you will perhaps say. She objected to it, and all the argu- 
ments which a fond, deUcate^ unmarried lady could use, she 
did not fail to produce agunst it. I plead the advantage I 
should derive from it. The personal improvement, the 
connexions I should make. I told her she was not the only 
(me on whom fortune did not smile in every instance. I 
produced examples from her ovm acquaintance, and repre- 
sented their situation in terms which sensibly affected both 
benielf and Lady C- . I painted a lady full of affectiong 

* Late PrandeDt of the United States. 
\ Th0 ijeaidence of Mra^ PierocL 


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Aged 23.] MBMOifts of aaaon bifkr. 185 

of tenderness, and sensibility, separated from her husbandi 
for a series of time, by the cruelty of the war — her uncer- 
tainty respecting his health ; the pain and anxiety which 
must naturally arise from it. I represented, in the most 
pathetic terms, the disquietudes which, from the nature of 
her connexion, might possibly intrude on her domestic re- 
treat. I then raised to her view fortitude under distress ; 
cheerfulness, life, and gayety, in the midst of affliction. 

I hope you will forgive me, my dear little friend, if I pro- 
duced you to give Ufe to the image. The instance, she 
owned, was appUcable. She felt for you from her he^urt, and 
she has a heart capable of feeling. She wished not a mis^ 
fortune similar to yours ; but, if I was resolved to make it so^ 
she would strive to imitate your example. I have now per- 
mission to go where I please, but you must not forget 
her. She and Lady C promise to come to the Her- 
mitage to spend a week or two. Encourage her, and 
represent the advantage I shall gain from travel. But 
why should I desire you to do what I know your own heart 
will dictate ? for a heart so capable of friendship feels its 
own pain alleviated by alleviating that of another. 

But do not suppose that my attention is only taken up 
with my own affairs. I am too much attached ever to for- 
get the Hermitage. Mrs. Duvall, I hope, is recovering ; and 
Kitty's indisposition is that of my nearest relation. Mrs. 
de Visme has delicate nerves. Tell me her children are 
well, and I know she has a flow of spirits, for her health de- 
pends entirely on theirs. 

I was unfortunate in not being able to meet with the gov- 
ernor. He was neither at EUzabethtown, B. Ridge, Prince- 
ton, nor Trenton. I have consulted with several members 
of Congress on the occasion. They own the injustice, but 
cannot interfere. The laws of each state must govern it- 
self. They cannot conceive the possibiUty of its taking 
plaoe. Greneral Lee says it must not take {dace ; and if he 

Vol I.— a a 


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186 MBMons OF AAROir BUER. [Aged 23. 

was an absolate monarch, he would issue an order to i»re* 
Tent it. 

I am introduced to the gentleman I wished by General 
Lee in a very particular manner. I cannot detenmne with 
certainty what I shall do till my arriyal in Virginia. 

Make my compliments to Mrs. and Miss De Yisme, and 
believe me, with the sincerest friendship, 


James Monros. 

Mr. Peter De Visme, the brother of Mrs. Prevost, was 
ci^tured at sea, and made prisoner of war. As she was 
personally acquainted with General Washingtcm, she soU* 
cited his influence to promote his exchange, to which the 
general replied : — 

Hekt^oartexs, ICiddklKOok, 19th Maj, 1778. 

It is much to be regretted that the pleasure of obeying 
the first emotions in favour of misfortune is not always in 
our power. I should be happy could I consider myself at 
liberty to ccmply with your request in the case of your 
brother, Mr. Peter De Visme. But, as I have heretofore 
taken no direction in the disposal of marine prisoners, I can- 
not, with propriety, interfere on the present occasion, how- 
ever great the satisfaction I should feel in obliging where 
you are interested. Your good sense will perceive this, and 
find a sufficient excuse in the delicacy of my situation. 
I have the honour to be, madam. 
Your obedient servant, 

Gborgb Washington. 

from wiluam paterson. 

MoRiitowii, 2901 September, ITTBl 

Drar Burr, 
About four weeks ago I received a letter firom you of the 
6th of August, and, a week after, another of the 2dd. They 


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Aged 23.] lOMoiRs or aaron anm. 187 

came by the way of Moorestown, from which to Raritoo^ 
where I reside. The anveyance is easy and safe. I can* 
not point out any mode of sendiag your letters better thaa 
that vrbich you hare adopted. 

I was pleased extremdy to hear fircHn you, and, indeed^ 
was quite disappduited in not hearing fircHn you sooner. I 
was for a time in expectation that you would return into 
Jersey, as the scene of military operaticms was directed to 
your part of the wodd, and would unavoidably driye you 
from your study and repose. Military q)erations are so flue* 
tuating and uncertain as to render it exceedingly difficult to 
fix upon a retreat which may not be broken in upcxi in the 
course of a campaign. New-Uaven bid fair to be the seat 
of calmness and serenity, of course well suited for a studi*- 
ous and contempladye mind, and therefore made choice of 
as die place of your abode. New-Hav«:i, however, partook 
of the conuBon calamity ; and, in the evolution of humaa 
events, from a place of safety and repose, was turned into a 
place of confusion and war. 

You are not contented, my dear Burr, and why are you 
not? You sigh for New- Jersey, and why do you not re* 
turn? It is true we are continually brdcen in upon by Iho 
sons of tumult and war. Our situation is such that the one 
army or the other is almost constantly with us, and yet we 
rub along with tolerable order, spirit, and ccmtent. Oh ! that 
the days of peace would once more return, that we might 
follow what business, partake of what amusements, and 
think and live as we please. As to myself, I am, my dear 
Burr, one of the happiest of men. The office I hold calls 
me too frequently, and detains me too long, from home, oth- 
erwise I should enjoy happiness as full and hi^ as this 
world can affi)rd. It is, as you express it, ^' serene, rural, 
and sentimental;" and such, one day, you will/ee/. 

" You see no company — you partake of no amusements — 
you are always grave." Such, too, has been the life that I 
have lived for months and years. I cannot say that it is aA 


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188 MBMOuis OF AARON BVRft. [Aged 2S. 

nnpleasing one. I aroided company ; indeed, I do go stilli 
, unlesis it be the company of chosen friends* I have been 
ever fond of tny fireside and study — ever fond of caUing up 
some absent friend, and of living over, in idea, past times 
of sentimental pleasure. Fancy steps in to my aid, colours 
the picture, and makes it delightfrd indeed. You are in the 
yery frame of mind I wish you to be ; may it continue. 

I cannot tell you what has become of Mrs. Prevost's af- 
fiiirs. About two months ago I received a very polite letter 
from her. She was apprehensive that the commissicmers 
would proceed. It seems they threatened to go on. I 
wrote them on the subject, but I have not heard the event* 
I am at this place, on my way to a superior court in Ber- 
gen. If possible, I shall wait on the good gisntlewoman. 
At Bergen I shall inquire in^o the state of the matter. It 
will, indeed, turn up of course. You shall soon hear frosB, 
me again. Adieu. May health and happiness await you. 


The precarious and unsettled state of Colonel Burr's 
health, in the autumn of 1779 and the beginning of 1780, 
was such that he was unable to adopt and adhere to any 
regular system of study. Among his most intiniate per« 
sonal friends was Colonel Robert Troup. He, too, had de- 
termined to retire from public service, and was anxious to 
study in the same o£Sice with Burr. His letters cast much 
light on their pursuits at die time they were written. 


Philadelphk, leth JunuHT, irjSS. 

Mt bear Friend, 
Watkins was kind endugh to deliver me yours of th^ 8th 
of December, written, I presume, at Paramus. I aknoat 
envy you the happiness you hate enjoyed. From the first 
moment of my acquaintance with Mrs. Prevost and her sis« 
ter, I conceived an admiraticm for them both, which is much 


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Aged 23.] MlBlfOiRS Ot AAHON BORtt. 189 

increased by the opinion you entertain of them. How, then, 
am I flattered by their polite manner of mentioning my 
name. To whom am I indebted but to you, my firiend, for 
this immerited favour ? Surely these ladies saw nothing in 
me at Governor Livingston's which was worthy of remem* 
brance, unless a terrible noise, which some people call 
laughter, could be worth remembering. With the best in- 
tention, therefore, to serve me, you have done me an injury, 
Aaron. I shall be afraid to see our favourites in the spring, 
because I shall fall infinitely short of their ideas of clever- 
ness. Pray, do you recollect the opinion which Judge Can- 
dour solemnly pronounced upon us both, in a court of rea-» 
son held at the Indian King ? Why, then, vrill you expose 
my weakness by ascribing to me imaginary excellences ? 
If you persist in such cruel conduct, sir, I will make 3^01! 
feel the weight of my resentment, by publishing to the 
world the purity of my esteem for your public and private 

I am happy to find our plan of studying together appears 
more and more rational to you. It reaDy does to me, and I 
hope we shall follow it. Since you left Philadelphia, some 
circumstances have turned up which render my o£Sice so 
disagreeable to me that I am determined to resign. Vaus 
pouvez compter sur mot. Besides the disgust I have taken, 
I am led to it by ambition, which has a small share of influ- 
ence over me as well as you. 

But I am desirous of a change in our plan, vehich I re- 
quest you to think of seriously. I am inclined to believe 
it would be best for us to study the law with Mr. Stockton, 
at Princeton. This, I know, will surprise you ; but your 
surprise will be lessened when you hear my reasons. 

The practice of Connecticut difiers so materially from 
the practice of New- York and New-Jersey, that we should 
lose time by being with Mr. Osmer. For, after being eigh- 
teen months or two years with him, it would be necessary 
to continue nearly the same time in another ofiice, to get a 


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190 MSM0I118 OF AARON B1IRR. [Aged 23. 

competent knowledge of the practice. This is a matter of 
c(msequence, especially ais it is my object to qualify myself 
for practice as soon as possible. 

I have the highest opinion oi Mr. Osmer, and, did I in-* 
tend to follow the law in Connecticut, there is no man I 
would sooner study with. I beUeve he would groimd us 
well in the knowledge of the dead4etter of the law ; but I 
wish to have the practice and the theory accompanying 
each other. Mr. Stockton has been pdiite enough to make 
me an offer, and has promised to spare no pains to instruct 
me. He would be glad to instruct you likewise; for I 
have heard him express himself of you in the most friendly 
manner. I propose to lodge at some substantial fartner's 
bouse, about a mile from the main road, and have made a 
ftdemn league and covenant with my own mind to seclude 
mysdf from the pleasures of the world. This I know I 
can do. And haye you not as much philosophy as I have 1 

It is true, Mr. Stockton has unmarried daughters, and 
there is a number of genteel families in and near Prince* 
ton. But why should we ccxmect ourselves with any of 
them, so as to interrupt our studies ? They will be entitled 
to a civil bow from us whenever we meet them; and, if 
they expect more, they will be disappointed. Indeed, I 
shall take care to inform them <^ my intentions, and if they 
afterwards complain of my want of politeness in not visit* 
ing them, it wiQ give me Uttle uneasiness. 

I entreat you, my dearest and best friend, to reflect on 
this matter, and favour* me with your answer vrithout a 
moment's loss of time. My hi^iness, and my improve- 
ment in the law, depend entirely upon pursuing my studies 
with you. The change I now propose is conformable to 
Ae senthnents aiKl wishes of aU my friends, particularly of 
Chancellor Livingston, who is certainly a judge. 

I forgot to mention that Mr.. Stockton is universally al* 
lowed to be one of the best speakers vre ever had in this 
part of the continent, and it will therefore be in his pow«r 


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Aged 330 MBMOIR8 or aakon siritR. 191 

to teach us the eloquence of the bar^ which may be con* 
sidered as a capital advantage. 

J have communicated my sentiments on this subject 
more fiilly to our mutual finend, Colonel Wadsw(»rth, who 
will deliver you this letter, than I have to you in writing. 
He wUl explain them to you, and, I am sure, will give you 
his own with the utmost candour and sincerity. 

I have left several messages at the house Dr. 

lodges when he is in town ; but cannot get an answer, and 
see little prospect of getting your money unless you write 
him a dunning letter. I shall leave one for him to-morrow, 
and will endeavour to have the affair settled this week. 

I write this at my lodgings, where I have not a single 
newspaper* Colcmel Wadsworth will leave town in the 
course of an hour ; and, if I can find time, I will go to the 
office and cdlect all I can find. There have b^en noo^ 
however, since you left town, which are worth readinj^ 
WadswcNih wiU tell you all Hkd news I have, whkh is,, that - 
old Roger Sherman is metamorphosed, by some strange 
magical power» into a very honest man. 

God bless you, and may Dom. Tetard soon have the pleas* 
ure of drinking a glass of wine virith us both, in his house at 
Kingsbridge. I mean, after the British gentry kive left it. 
I should have written to you before, but I have been wait^ 
ing these three weeks past for Colonel Wadsworth to leave 
Philadelphia. He will inform you of the cursed slavish 
life I lead at the treasury office. I am obUged to attend it 
even on Saturday ni^its, which places me below the level 
of a negro in point of liberty. Pray present my best 
respects to Tetard, and assure him of my wishes to sarve 
him at all times, and on all occasions. 




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IM Hbhoirs or aarok bvkr. [Aged 84. 

^<5 U7« 


Philadripliu, Fabniaiy 14tit, 17d0. 

I have resigned my o£Sice, and am now preparing to leave 
Philadelphia to go to Princeton, agreeable to the plan in my 
letter by Colonel Wadsworth. This week I expect to 
finish a little private business I have on hand, and, by the lat- 
ter end of the next, to be settled in a regular course of study 
with Mr. Stockton. What think you of this alteration in 
the plan we settled ? Can you leave Mr, Osmer without 
injury? I ac^sure you, the only motive I have to prefer 
Stockton is a desire to qualify myself for practice as soon 
as possible. All my friends are against my studying in 
Connecticut, for the reason mentioned in my last ; and they 
all recommend Stockton to me. I am therefore deter- 
mined to study with hhn. 

I am very much afraid that Princeton will be disagree- 
able to you on many accounts, and particularly on account 
of the number of acquaintances you have in and near it. 
Iliis is a misfortune, to be. sure ; but do as I shall, neglect 
them all ; it is matter of perfect indifference to me whether I 
affront them or not. My object is to study with the closest 
attention. I must do it. I have no other resource. 

Permit me to declare, Uke a sincere friend, that my hap- 
piness is so intimately connected with yours, that I shall be 
chagrined to an extreme if you ^d it inconvenient to join 
me. We could be useful to each other. Besides facilita- 
ting each other's progress in the law, we could improve our- 
selves in writing and speaking. In one word+— I am con- 
fident I should acquire as much knowledge in three years 
with you as in six years without you. I never was more 
serious. Come, therefore, inunediately, and bring Mr. 
Tetard with you to perfect us in the French language, 
which I have paid little attention to since I wrote you, and 
indeed since you left me. 


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<t-pl^ ^ etc ^''^^^^^ ^^• 

Aged 24.] MEMOIRS op aaron burr. 193 

Pray why have you neglected to answer my letter by 
Colonel Wadsworth ? I suspect something extraordinary is 
the matter with you. Or are you so angry as not to think 
I merit an answer ? Whatever your reason was, let me 
request you to favour me with an answer to this by the first 
opportunity. If it is sent under cover to Mr. Stockton, it 
will perhaps reach me sooner. 

It is reported, and pretty generally believed, that Sir 
Henry Clinton, with the fleet that came from New- York 
about six weeks ago, has touched at Georgia ; taken Pro- 
vost's troops with him, and gone either to St. Augustine or 
the Havannah. This is very important news, if true ; but 
it seems to wait confirmation. 

Your unalterable firiend, 

Robert Troup* 


Middletown, Febto«t l«th, 1780. 

Your friendly letter of September has at length found its 
way to me. I am once more a recluse. It accords with 
my feelings. I should doubtless be happier if I enjoyed 
perfect health and the society of a friend like you ; but why 
do I say like you ? No likeness could compensate for the 
absence of the originals 

I am something at a loss how to regulate my motions for 
the coming summer. The prospect of peace is still distant. 
It is an object of importance with me to be not only secure 
from alarms, but remote from the noise of war. My pres- 
ent situation promises at least those advantages. Perhaps 
yours does equally. Events only can determine. 

My health, which was till of late very promising, seems 
to decline a little. This circumstance will pbhge me to alter 
my course of life. I shall be in your state in May or June, 
perhaps sooner. If you have a prospect of tranquillity, I 
shall have no thought of returning. Colonel Troup, a 
worthy, sensible young fellow, and a particular friend of 

Vol. L— B b 9 


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mine, wishes to know where I shall prosecute my studies, 
and is determined, he says, to be my companion. A gen- 
tleman who has been long eminent at your bar, and whom 
we both know perfectly well, had made Troup some polite 
offers of his service as an instructer. He was pleased with 
the scheme, and as he knew the gentleman was professedly 
my friend, urged me to put myself also under his tuition. I 
mentioned to him in a late letter the objections which had been 

y^\ decisive with me, and I fancy he will view them in the same 

^ . 1 light. He is the companion I would wish in my studies. 

, \^ '\ I He is a better antidote for the spleen than a ton of drugs. 

** ' ' 1 I am often a little inclined to Ajpo. 

' ^ My best respects attend Mrs. Paterson. Speak of her in 
your letters. I would not feel indifferent to one so near to 
you, even if no personal acquaintance had confirmed my 
esteem. You would have heard from me sooner, but no 
post has rode this fortnight. I have been pursuing the 
track you marked out for me^ though not with the ardour I 
could wish. My health will bear no imposition. I am 
obliged to eat, drink, sleep, and study, as it directs. No 
Sjiich restraint interrupts y(»ir bliss. May you feel no biHids 
but those of love and friendship — ^no rules but those thai 
lead to happiness. Adieu. 

Yours sinc^ely, 

A. Burr. 


Pliikdalphuw aoth F«fanaiy, Xim. 

Mt bear Burr, 
Your favours of the 1st and 5th inst. came to hand last 
night, and are both before me. I am very much indebted 
to you for your candour in stating the objections which are 
against Princeton, as well as Mr. Stockton. I had antici- 
pated them all. They are far from being groundless. But 
my situation was peculiar when I determined to Uve with 
Mr. Stockton. In my last a principle of delicacy induced 


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Aged 24.] MSMOiiUB 07 aajion bvrb. 199 

me to be more reserved than is consistent with the sincerity 
of our affection for each other. Forgive my criminal re- 
serve. I will be plain with you now. 

By a strange kind of contracted system* which pervades 
all the civil establishments of Congress, I was reduced to 
the necessity of resigning my office at least six weeks 
sooner than I eacpected. Though I laboured both day and 
night, with as much drudgery as a negro on a plantation in 
the West Indies, the board of treawiry did not think them* 
selves authorized to report a wwrrant in my fevour for 
money to answer the conamon demands of living. They 
ccmfined me to my salary of ten thomand doUara* per an^ 
num. Finding diat I had not the most distant prospect of 
getting a decent Buppon while I continued in office, aa4 
Ihat I was obUged to pay four or five thousand dollars oul 
pf my own private purse for neeesfories^ J cursed and quit 
them the beginning of this month. 

Being thus out of ofilce, I thought it would be prudent to 
settle myself at the law without a moment's delay, both on 
account oi the heavy expense of living in this city, and the 
loss of time, which is of the greatest consequence to b^» 
I did not forget Mr. Paterson when I gave the preference 
to Mr. Stockton. The private cl^racter of the fcmner is 
infinitely superi(»r to that of the latter, and so is his public* 
But he is immersed in such an ocean of business, that I 
imagined it would be out of his power to bestow all ^e 
time and pains on our improvement we would wish. Be- 
sides, I was afraid of being more confined to the drudgery 
of copying in his office than I ought. This is inseparable 
from an office in which there is a good deal done, however 
well disposed a lawyer may be to promote the interest o( 
his clerk. You observe that his present office expires next 
summer. I grant it. Yet he may be chosen attorney-gen- 
eral again ; and this I believe will be the case, for there is 

* Continental paper doUan-^^aal in value to «Mr^ for one tilvtr da/Ov, 


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196 MlBMOIRS OF AARON BURR. [Aged 24. 

not a man of sufficient abilities in the state, except him and 
Morris, to whom the people would give the office. Morris, 
I fancy, will ^ot accept it if offered to him, as he has lately 
resigned his seat on the bench ; and I will venture to pre- 
dict that Patcrson will be continued, though against his 

Upon the whole, then, I feel extreme regret in telling 
you that I must go ^md sit down at Princeton the latter 
end of this week at farthest. The die is cast. My honour 
forbids me to act contrary to the engagement I have enter- 
ed into with Mr. Stockton. Had I received your kind let- 
ter t)efore my absolute determination, I should certainly 
have followed your advice. Our plan, therefore, will be 
frustrated. Painful the reflection! You would hurt me 
exceedingly if you came to Uve at Princeton, and subjected 
yourself to the inconveniences you mention, merely to 
please me. 

I am glad to hear your health is mending, and should be 
still more happy if it was unnecessary to make use of Ae 
mineral springs in the Clove. I have always suspected 
that the law would disagree with your delicate constitution. 
It requires the most intense study. Your ambition to excel 
will stimulate you to the closest application, and I dread 
the effects it may produce. You should therefore be cau- 
tious. Health is a source of more substantial pleasure 
than the most cultivated understanding. 

A few days ago Dr. Edwards left a bundle of bills, 
amounting, as he says, to one thousand pounds, at Dr. 
Rush's for me, to be sent to you. I have not yet counted 
it, but^I suppose it is right. To-day or to-morrow I shall 
leave a receipt for it at Dr. Rush's. I believe I shall 
presume bo far upon your friendship as to borrow a part of 
it for my own use for about a fortnight. I am much dis- 
appointed in receiving a small sum to pay my debts in 
town. I sold two thousand dollars in certificates to Mr. 
Duer just before he left town, and he gave me an order 


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Aged 24.] xsMoiRS of aaron burr. 197 

iqxm a lady for the money. I find she will not be able to 
pay it for some time hence, and I am so pressed for cash 
that I have written to Duer, at Baskenridge, for the certifi- 
cates or money immediately. I expect an answer every 
moment ; and, till I receive it, shall consider part of yours 
as my own. The remainder I shall transmit you by the first 
safe conveyance. I thiid^ it would be wron^ to trust the 
post with it. 

I thank you sincerely for your oflFer of a horse. The 
present state of my finances is such that I cannot afford to 
keep one. If I could it might detach me from my studies. 
Beware ol temptation, saith the Scripture, and so saith my 

I suppose you have read the king's speech. He makes 
no mention of his rebellious subjects in America, or of any 
allies, and is resolved to prosecute the war. The debates 
in the House of Lords, as well as Commons, on the motion 
for wi address of thanks, were very warm. Lord North, 
in one of his speeches^ makes no scruple of declaring that 
they have no allies to assist them. That they can get 
none. That the combined fleets have a decided superiority ; 
and that it would have been highly dangerous for the Eng- 
lish fleet to have fought them last fall, llie bills on Spain 
and Holland sell very fast. They will all be disposed of in 
a very short time. There are large arrivals in Virginia and 
Maryland ; and there are several vessels below, waiting for 
the river to be cleared of ice, which will be in three or four 
days. Poor continental is still going down hill. Fifty- 
eight was refused yesterday ; and I have no doubt it will be 
seventy for one before ten days hence. Adieu. As long as 
you are Aaron Burr, I vnll be 

Robert Troup. 

from major r. aldbn. 
I intended to have wrote you a letter in answer to your 
last, but neither head or heart will enable me at present. Al- 


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198 MBM0IR8 OF AARON BURR. [Aged 2A. 

though I am answerable for my conduct, yet I cannot gor- 
em the animal fluids. I am so much of a lunatic thermom' 
etevy that both moon and atmosphere very much influence 
my aerial constitution. My brain is subject to such changes^ 
and so much aflected by external objects, that I -may be 
properly compared to a windmill. You may make the si- 
militudes as you please. I have'Yiot a single sentiment in 
my head, or feeling in my heart, that would pay for expres- 
sing. At any rate, my mill will not grind. What is all this, 
says my friend Aaron ? The pleasure I enjoyed yesterday 
in feasting in good company, and in a rariety of other agree- 
ables, at the nuptial anniversary of our dear and happy 
friends, Mr. and Mrs. Thaddeus Burr, has .deprived me of 
that common share of sensibility which is generally distrib- 
uted through the days of the year, aiid rather destroyed the 
equilibrium. I set out for camp the last of this week ; may 
I eipect letters from my friend ? Be assured of my warm-^ 
est friendship, and make me happy by the like assurance, a» 
it wiU afford the sincerest pleasure to, 

Yours, with affection, 

R. AxikSN. 


Rariton, April 14t2k» 1780. 

Mr DSAR Burr, 

I take the earliest opportunity of acknowledging the re- 
ceipt of your dateless letter, and returning you xpj best 
thanks for it. Mr. and Mrs. Reeve* have been so kind as 
to tarry a night with me. We endeavoured to prevail upon 
them .to pass a few days with us, and should have been 
happy if we could have succeeded. This letter goes with 
them. That circumstance cannot fail of making it still more 
welcome to your honest and benevolent heart. 

I wrote you the latter end of January from the Hermit-^ 

* Jadge Tappan Reeve, whose lady was the nster of Cdonel Bur; 


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Aged 24.] MSM0IR8 of aaeon sure. 199 

age, and ii^rusted the letter to Mrs. Preyost. It was a mere 
scrawL This is of the same cast However, I promise, the 
very, first leisure hour, to devote it entirely to you in the let* 
ter way. Although I do not write friequently to you, yet, be- 
lieve me, I think firequently of you. Oh, Burr ! may you 
enjoy health, and be completely happy; as much so as I am 
— ^more I cannot wish you. Nor will you be able to attain 
high felicity until you experience such a union as I do. Mrs. 
Paterson is in uAerMe health, and gives you her best re* 
spects. I wish her safely through the month of May, and 
then I shaU be still more happy. 

When you come to Jersey I shall certainly see you. If 
I do not, it will be treason against our friendship. 

Peace is distant. There is no prospect of it in the pres- 
ent year. Nor do I tiunk ihat Britain will come to terms 
while she fancies herself superior on the ocean. The war« 
however, goes southward, and there is some hope that we 
tfhali be more in quiet this year than we have been since 
ihe commencement of hostiUties. On the opening of the 
caaqpaign we shall be able to judge better. Adieu. 

William Patbrsoic* 

FROM colonel TROUP. 

Plriticetoii, ApiflSTth, 1780. 

Mt dear Burr, 
I wrote to you yesterday, and happened to put the letter 
into the postoffice a little after the post had gone. In diat 
letter I requested you to come here as soon as possible, for 
it was highly probable that I should leave Princeton en* 
tirely, and determine to follow our original plan. The event 
has confirmed my conjecture. I came here firom General 
Morris's yesterday, and exerted all the influence I was mas- 
ter of to get new lodgings, but could not, without lodging in 
the town, which would be disagreeable to me on many ac- 
counts. I have now given over all thoughts of staying here ; 
and, having an excellent pretext for changing my ground, I 


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shall write to Mr. Stockton, who is still in Philadelphia, and 
acquaint him with my intentions of going away. Nothing is 
therefore wanting but yourself, with a horse and chair, to 
make me completely happy. I wish to God I could push 
off eastward inunediately, but I cannot. I have no horse, 
neither is it practicable to borrow or hire one. I must, 
then, wait for you; and I request you, in the most pressing 
terms, to lose not a moment's time in coming for me at Gen- 
eral Morris's, about six miles from this, near Colonel Van 
Dyke's mill, on the road to Somerset, where I shall wait 
impatiently for you. 

I am extremely uneasy lest this letter should reach you 
after you have left home, and begun your journey north* 
ward. In that case I shall be very unfortunate ; and, to pro- 
vent too great a delay, I write to Mr. Reeves at Litchfield, 
and enclose him a letter for you, and desire him to for- 
ward it to you, wherever you are, with all expedition^ I 
shall likewise enclose another for you to Mrs. Prevost, who 
will be kind enough to give it to you the moment you ^arrive 

If we once get together, I hope we shall not be soon 
parted. It would afford me the greatest satisfaction to Uve 
with you during life. God grant our meeting may be soon. 
You have my best and fervent wishes for the recovery pf 
your health, and every other happiness. Adieu. 

Robert Troup^ 

to colonel troup. 


My dear Bob, 

i wrote you from this place the 12th inst. This follows 
close upon it, that I may rest assured of your having heard 
from me. 

I go to-morrow to Middletown, from whence I shall 
hasten my departure as much as possible. No trifling con- 
cerns should command me a moment ; but business of im- 


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Aged 24.] MSMoiRs of aaron burr. 


portance, and some embtorassments too serious to be laughed 
out of the way, will, I fear,, detain me this month. But the 
month is ahready gone before you can receive this. I hope 
your philosophy will not have forsaken you. Far from you i 
be gloom and despondency. Attune your organs to the gen- 
uine ha ! ha ! 'Tis to me the music of the spheres ; the sov- 
ereign specific that shall disgrace the physician'^ art, and 
baffle the virulence of malady. Hold yourself aloof from 
all engagements, even of ihe heart. We will deliberate un- 
biased, that we may decide with wisdom. I fbrm no decis- 
ion on the subject of our studies till I see you. 

L write from the house of our friend Thaddeus, in a 
world of company, who are constantly interrupting me with 
impertinent questions. Your summons .came unexpected^ 
and found me unprepared. Nevertheless^ my assiduity shall 
ecmvince you that you may coimnand 

A. Burr.. 

At Oeneral Morris's^ ntar Prmcalon, 16th Mtj, 178QL 
Mt dear Burr, 
I wrote you, about three weeks ago, a very pressing let- 
ter, and requested you to come for me here as soon as. 
possible. My anxiety to see you is extreme, and» lest my 
letter should have miscarried, I cannot help troublipg you 
with another. Every thing, my dear Burr, has succeeded 
lo my wishes. I have left Mr. Stockton upoB tb^ most 
friendly terms imaginable, and I am still ai General Mor- 
ris's to avoid expense, but am so situated that I cannot 
"study. I assure you, my ftiture prosperity and happiness iit 
kfe depends, in a greater measure thaa you may imagine^ 
on my living and studying with you; a»d the sooner we get 
seated in some retired place,, where we may live cheaply 
and study without interruption,^ the better. I know myself 
— I think I know you perfectiy. I am more deceived than 
ever I was if we do not Jive happily together,, and improve; 
Vol. I.^C e > 9* 


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£02 MXMoiRs OF AARON BTKB. [Aged 24» 

beyond oar most sanguine expectations. Deiay not, therC'^ 
fore^ a single moment, my dear Burr,^ but come for me your* 
self* A horse or a chair without you will be unwelcome. 
I want to consult you about several matters of importance 
to me before I leaye this state. I say leave this state, for 
our original plan of studying with Mr. Osmer appears the 
most rational to me on many accounts. 

I am so much attached to you, my dear Burr, and feel 
myself so much interested in every thing which concerns 
you, that I believe, and hope sincerely^ it will be many years 
before we separate if we can once sit down together. As 
long as my slender fortune will permit me to live without 
business, we will, if you find it agreeable, enjoy the pleas* 
ures of retirement. And when we enter on the theatre of 
the world, why not act our parts together? Heaven grant 
that we may. I repeat it again, my dearest friend, lose not 
a moment's time in coming for me. It is painful to trespass 
so long upon General Morris's bounty, though he be my 
friend, and I have not any n^ans of stirring an inch from 
him unless I walk. For fear you shonld not be at Middle- 
town, I shall enclose a copy of this letter to Mr. Reeves, 
aad request him to forward it to you immediately if you 
shtiuld not be with him. 

"With what pleasure did I receive yours of the 24th ult., 
at Prinxieton, the other day, when I went to pay Mr. Stock- 
ton a vis\t after his return from Philadelphia. I cordially 
congratulate you on the improvement of your health by rash 
experiments. May it be as well established as my own, 
which is perfectly capable of the closest application. But 
I was not a little mortified to find you say nothing about* 
your intention to ride to Jersey. Let me entreat you oncQ 
more to set oflF as soon as possible. Every moment is pre- 
cious, and ought to be employed to advantage. I shall wait 
for you with the greatest impatience ; and, in the meantime^ 
I am, what I always wish to be, 

Your affectionate and siacere friend, 

Robert Troup. 


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Aged 84.] XBM01R8 of aaron bvrr. 908 


Society.HtU, Oenenl Uotm% 23d May, 1780. 

My 9BAR Aaron, 

My patience is almost exhausted. I have been waiting 
for you this month past Here I am, a pensioner upon the 
bounty of my good firiend General Morris, and am likely to 
continue so, unless you are kind enough to come and carry 
me away. This is the fifth or sixth letter I have written 
you on the subject. What can be the reason of the great 
delay in forwarding letters by the post ? Your last was 
above a fortnight old before it got to Princeton ; and, upon 
inquiry. Daddy Plumb informs me the ridei^ are ordered to 
ride forty miles a day during the season. Must I attribute 
it to the fatality which has already separated us, and, I fear, 
is determined to put an eternal bar to oUr junction ? Such 
an ef ent would Mast all my hopes of future happiness. 

My dear Aaron, I want words to express my pleasure in 
anticipating the satisfaction of retiring from the cares of tho 
world wkh you, and Uving in all the simple elegance of sok* 
cient philosophers. We should make a rapid improv^^emenl 
in every branch of useful literature ; and when we came to 
act our parts on the theatre of the world, we might excit* 
admiration, and, what would be infinitely more pleasing to 
us, we should be better men and better citizens. 

After Mr. Stockton returned from Philadelphia, I conmiu** 
nicated to him my situation and my indentions. He appro- 
ved of my determination to go away, and gave me some ad^* 
vice, which you shall know vfhen you see me. Thus I 
have left Mr. Stockton without causing the least uneasiness, 
and I am now ready to ^ter upon our old plan, which ap« 
pears the most consistent vnth our present views. As I 
said in all my letters to you on the subject, I lun here from 
a principle of economy ; but it is disagreeable to stay so 
long as a visiter, and I am therefore obhged to request you 
to alter your intention about coming here, and set off tho 


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204 MBMoiRS OP AARON BURR. [Aged 24. 

moment you receive this. I have no horse, and depend en- 
tirely upon you. Besides the time we lose by postponing 
our settlement, I have a matter of great importance to us 
both to communicate to you, that has no connexion with our 
studying, and which makes it necessary for me to see you 

Poor Mr. Stockton is incurable. He cannot survive the 
summer. Yours, 

Robert Troup;. 

prom colonei. tr017p. 

Baskenridge, June 27th, 1780: 

Mr DEAR Aaron, 

After a very disagreeable ride indeed, I came here the day 
before yesterday in the afternoon ; and yesterday mornings 
jttst as I was going to mount my horse, I was seized vnth a 
violent fever, which lasted till sunset. This morning I fee) 
mvch better, though 1 am exceedingly weak. In a few 
minutes I shall take an emetic ; after which I suppose the 
bark will be necessary. The fever seems to beof the inter* 
mitteat kind, and^ I think, is occasioned principally by riding 
in the hot sun. i am so agreeably situated here^ that I shall 
stay till I recover^ which I hope vdll be in three or four days. 
The family aie very polite and attentive to me, and Dr. Cut- 
ting, who quarters in the neighbourhood, is both my physi^ 
eian and apothecary. 

The Miss Livingstons have inquired in a very friendly 
manner about you, and expect you wilt wait upon them 
when you pass this way. Since I have been here, I have 
had an opportunity of removing entirely the suspicion they 
had of your courting Miss De Visme.* They believe 
Rothing of it now, and attribute youi visits at Paramus to 
motives of friendship for Mts. Prevost and the £ftmily. 

♦ The sister of Mrs. Prerortv 


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Aged 24.] MBHoiRs of aaron bura. 205 

Wherever I am, and can with propriety, you may be as- 
sured I shall represent this matter in its true light. 

I have obtained a few particulars of -— — , which I was 
before unacquainted with, and which I cannot forbear com- 
municating. He is the son of the vice-president of Penn- 
sylvania, who I always understood in Philadelphia was a 
respectable merchant, and I beheve is worth a moderate 
fortune, though I am not certain. His family was not 
ranked in the genteeler class before the war ; but at present 
may be called fashionable, or d la mode. The girls here 
think him handsome, genteel, and sensible, and say posi- 
tively he is no longer engaged to Miss Shippen. He has 
frequently spoken to them in raptures, latterly of Miss 
De Visme, and once declared he was half in love with her. 
I have taken care to touch this string with the greatest deli- 

How is your health ? Better or worse ? Pray neglect 
no opportunity of writing to me. Present my most respect- 
ful compliments to Mrs. Prevost and the family, and also 
the ladies on the hill. 

Miss Susan Governor Livingston desires her compliments 
to you and the two families. So do Susan and Eliza Ba8«« 

Yours affectionately, 

Robert Trouf. 

from fetbr colt.* 

Weathenfield, Tth July, 1780. 

Mt dbar Sir, 
Will you allow me that appellation, who have so long 
Beglected to inform you of the situation of your affedrs left 
in my hands ? But figure to yourself the thousand embar^ 
rassments that have attended me in conducting my public 
concerns towards a closty and you will be led to put a more 

* Deputy quartermaster-general ; subsequently commissary for the French 
tnny, vsA treasurer of the State of Connecticut. 


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206 MBM0IA8 OF AARON BURR. [Aged 2L 

farourable construction on my conduct than I should other- 
wise expect. 

My last informed you of the loss of the Hawk, being 
chased on shore the back side of Long Island. It was a few 
days after she went out on her last cruise, and before she 
had any success. Of course, about £20,000, the amount of 
her last outfits, were thrown away. I fear this will make 
her die in debt. Though all her goods are either sold or 
divided, yet her accounts are not settled. I wish I could 
see a tolerable prospect of their bemg speedily closed. But 
the agents are embarrassed. As soon as I can get her ac-^ 
counts, will inform you of the state of this unlucky adTcnture* 
There is on hand some clothing, some duck, and rigging, out 
of which I hope to raise hard money. What shall I do with 
the other articles, a small parcel of glassware and rum, 
and the money arising from the sales of the vessel's 
sea-coat, &c. ? I am advised to sell every thing for conti- 
nental money, at the present going prices, and exchange it 
for hard. What is the exchange with you ? With us it 
is from sixty to seventy for one. Let me know what I am 
to do with your money when I get it into my hands. I have 
not settled any of your accounts but Stanley's. 

Your friends are generally well, and wish to hear from 

you. Miss H has been quite unwell since you left us,^ 

as she tells me she hears you are. You vnll not be vain 
when I add, she has more than once lamented yemr ill state 
of health, and expressed some fears that it was not growing 
better. The Sallys beg me to make their best wishes for 
your health and happiness acceptable to 3rou. Shall I add, 
their love also ? 

Friend Wadsworth has engaged in the supplies for the 
French navy and troops. I think it will keep him employed, 
and much to his'advantage. 

Yours sincerely, 

Peter Colt^ 


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Aged 34.] HBMOIRS OF AARON BtTRR. 207 


Weathersfield, July 16th, 1780. 

Dbar Sir, 

I have to acknowledge the receipt of your polite and 
friendly letter of the 1st inst. My Uttle family would have 
been too much elated with your attention to them had you 
not dashed the pleasure with tlie account of your ill state 
of health. Pray be more attentive to the recovery of it,, 
even should it interfere with your study of the law. Let 
your diet and exercise be simple and regular ; directed by 
experience. The former not too low. It is a good old 
maxim — be religious, but not superstitious. So respecting 
health, be exactly attentive, but not whimsical. Excuse 
the term, for invaUds are but too apt to be governed by 
whim rather than reason and experience. 

Enclosed you have an account current with the agents of 
the Hawk. Indeed, take it altogether, it is but a poor ad* 
venture. I shall endeavour the settlement of your account 

with Friend , and remit you. In the meantime, it will 

not be amiss to send pie an account of money advanced to 

As to news, must refer you to the newspapers, wher» 
you will get a large supply. I wish (mr printers did not 
deal so much in the marvellous. It is in vain for them ta 
attempt copying Rivington.* They had better stick to tbd 

Yours, &c., 

Piter Colt* 

PROM colonel TROUP. 

Ruiton, July 181^1780. 

My dear Burr, 
Mr. Paterson went to Brunswick court this morning. 
The few lines by Dr. Brovm are the first I have had from 

* Printer to the king, in the city of New-York. 


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206 MBM0IR8 OF AARON BVRB. [Aged 24. 

you since I left Paramus ; where the other letters you refer 
to stay^ I know not. 

I am charmed with my present situation in every re- 
spect. It could not be more agreeable to my wishes. I 
shall hare reason to thank you, as long as I live, for my 
change. The man I lodge with is an able farmer — ^has a 
large house — is fond of me, and is possessed of every thing 
a reasonable person could expect or wish for. I study 
attentively, and have no interruption whatever. There is 
an agreeable neighbourhood in this part of the country, 
and, when I choose, I can unbend myself in very genteel 

I am reading Wood at present. I have almost done 
with his 4th chapter, and am looking over his chapter on 
courts. I confine my whole attention to the practice, for 
reasons I will tell you when we meet. I am translating 
Burlamaqui*s Politic Law. Reading Robertson's Charles 
v., Dalrymple on Feudal Property, and Swift's Works. 
The morning I devote to the law. I am up sometimes 
before, generally at sunrise. From two to half after three 
in the afternoon, and from nine to eleven m the evening, I 
apply to other matters. I am in a fair way, if public affeurs 
will suflFe!r me, to be retired. 

Paterson is the very man we wai^. He is sensible, 
friendly, and, as far as I am capable of judging, profound 
in the law. He is to examine tne on Saturday or Monday 
on what I have read, and I am preparing accordingly. I 
have heard him examine Noel yesterday on the practice, 
and I find his examinations are critical. In a couple of 
months I expect to be as far advanced in the practice as 
Noel. I cannot bear that he should be before me. It 
must not, it shall not be. 

My health is perfectly restored, and I am now as well as 
ever I was. I am happy to hear you grow better. May 
you soon be wdl enough to join me. The weather is so 


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Aged 24.] MEMOIRS of aaron bvrr. 209* 

intensely hot, and I am so closely engaged in study, that I 
cannot determine when I shall pay you a visit. 
Yours, &c., 

Robert Troup. 

FROM colonel TROUP. 

On the Rariton, 2l8t August, 1780. 

My dear BurR) 

The account I have given of my situation is far from a 
fiction. You will find it a pleasing reality when you come 
here, which I suppose you will postpone till you see me, 
as I have no doubt at present that the second division of 
the French fleet has arrived, with a re-enforcement of 4000 
troops. This event will render it necessary for me to be 
ready to move at a moment's warning ; and, presuming 
there will be no delay in commencing our operations, I thhik, 
in the course of a fortnight, or three weeks at most, I shall 
be at Paramus. 

Will your health permit you to join the army ? I fear 
not. Fatigue and bad weather may ruin it I confess I 
am much disappointed in my opinion of the mineral waters. 
From your letters, I conclude the stock of health you have 
gained since I left you is scarcely perceptible. Scnnething 
else must be tried. Life is precious, and demands every 
exertion and sacrifice to preserve it. Mr. Paterson and I 
have often spoken together on this subject, and we both 
agree that a ride to the southward next winter, and a trip 
to the West Indies in the spring, would be of infinite ser- 
vice to you. This might be done with ease in five or six 

Mrs. Paterson is perfectly recovered, and her little girl 
grows finely, and promises to be handsome. Mrs. Pater- 
son often asks about you, and seems anxious to have you 
among us. When you come, remember to bring with you 
the book you took with you on our way to Paramus. I 
believe it is an essay on health. Mrs. Paterson wants it. 

Vol. L— D d 


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The idea you gave me of her is just. She is easy, polite, 
sensible, and friendly. Paterson is rather deficient in the 
graces, but he possesses every virtue that enters into the 
composition of an amiable character. 

I can hardly go out anywhere without being asked a 
number of questions about you. You seem to be univer- 
sally known and esteemed. Mr. Morris's family are ex- 
ceedingly particular in their inquiries concerning your health. 
It would be easier for you to conceive, than for me to tell you, 
how much they like you. They insist upon our paying them 
a visit as soon as you are settled here, which I have prom- 
ised, on your part as well as my own. 

Let me entreat you to avoid engaging any of your French 
books in Connecticut, especially Chambaud's Exercises, to 
any person whatever, I, and perhaps you, will stand in 
need of them all. 

I am greatly indebted to the good family for their favour- 
able sentiments, which, as I said once before, must proceed 
more from affection to you thsm what they find meritorious 
in me. I am certain, however, that their esteem for me 
cannot exceed mine for them, and this you will be kind 
enough to hint to them when you present my respectful 
compliment;s« Assure Dom. Tetard of my friendship for 
him, and fixed determination to use all endeavours to meta- 
morphose him into a Crassus after the war is ended. Adieu 

Robert Troup. 


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Monistown, 27th August^ 1780. 

Mt dear Burr, 

I was not at Rariton wKen the doctor, who was the bea/ei* 
of your letter, passed that way. It would have given me 
pleasure to have shown him every mark of attention and es- 
teem in my power. 

I dare say you count it an age since I have written 
you ; and, indeed, I must confess that the time has been 
long. Your good-nature, however, will induce you to for- 
give me, although I cannot expect it from your justice. I 
hope the water you drink will prove medicinal, and soon 
irestore you to health ; although I am more disposed to think 
that it will take time> and be effected gradually. Persons 
indisposed (I speak from experience) are generally impa-^ 
tient to become well, and that very impatience has a natural 
tendency to prevent it. Do not be restless, my dear Burr; 
nor think that, because you do not get well in a month, or in 
a season, you will not get well at all. The heat of this sum-^ 
met has been intense, nor is it as yet much abated. Per- 
haps that too may have had some effect upon you. The 
hale and hearty could scarcely bear up under it. May 
health soon visit you, my good friend. 

Mrs. Paterson is well. Our little pledge, a girl, Burr^* 
has been much indisposed, but is at present on the riiending 
hand. I am from home as usual. My oificial duty obUges 
me to be so. I grow quite uneasy under it, and I find ease 
and retirement necessary for the sake of my constitution, 
which has been somewhat broken in upon by tmceasing at* 

* The lady of the Hon. Btephen Van Rensselaer. 


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tention to business. The business has been too much for 
me. I hare always been fond of solitude, and, as it were, 
of stealing along through life. I am now sufficiently fond 
of domestic life. I have every reason to be so. Indeed, I 
know no happiness but at home. Such one day will be your 

My compliments to the family at the Hermitage. I shall 
Mrrite you before I leave this place. 

Yours, &c 

William Paterson. 

from william paterson. 

Monistowi^ 3Ut Augutt, 1780. 

Mt dear Burr, 

It is now near the midnight hour, and yet, late as it is, I 
could not acquit myself to my conscience if I had not again 
written you before I left this place, which will be early to- 
morrow. My Ufe is quite in the militant style — one canUni- 
ued ,scene of warfare. From this place I go down to the 
Supreme Court at Trenton, which will be on Tuesday next, 
and the Tuesday after that I shall return cmce more to 
Morristown, and when I shall leave it will be uncertain. I 
tejoice when the hour of rest comes up, and sicken at the 
approach of day. Business fairly bears me down. The 
truth is, that I am tired of writing, tired of reading, tired of 
bustling in a crowd, and, by fits, heartily tired of myself. 

I hope you go on gaining strength, and that you will in a 
little while get the better of your disorder. The mind and 
the body affect each other extremely. To a person in your 
state, hilarity, cheerfulness, a serene flow of spirits, are bet- 
ter than all the drugs in a doctor's shop. Gentle exercise is 
of infinite service. I hope you are not wanting in any of 
these. If you are, I cannot easily pardon you, because they 
are all within your power. 

Make my compliments acceptable to the family at the 
Hermitage, I have a high regard for them, and sincerely 


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Aged 24.] MXMoiRs of aaron burr. 213 

wish their happiness. I really pity and admire Mrs. Pre- 
Tost. Her situation demands a tear ; h^r conduct and de^ 
meanour the warmest applause. Tell Mrs. Prevost that she 
must remember me among her friends ; and that I shall be 
h^appy to render her all the service in my power. 

Since I have been at this place I have had a letter from 
Mrs. Paterson, who is well. Our little girl, who was indis- 
posed when! left home, is not worse. I flatter myself I 
shall find her better when I return. Alas, that I cannot be 
more at home. A husband and a parent have. a thousand 
tendernesses that you know nothing of. Adieu, my dear 
Burr ; live and be happy. 

William Patbrson. 

i!r0m colonbl troup. 

MorristowD, October 83d, I78Q. 

Mt dearest Frienp, 

I want words to express the pleasure I feel at the receipt 
of yours of the 22d, by the boy who came for your horse. It 
reheved me from a burden Which had sunk my spirits lower 
than I recollect them to have been by any calamity I have 
met with during the war. My imagination had crowded 
my mind with a thousand melancholy reflections from the 
moment 1 got your letter by Dr. Cutting,, who, like a 
modem weU-bred gentleman, left it at my lodgings only 
three days ago. Some evil genius certainly interrupts our 
correspondence. I write letters without number, and yet 
you seldom hear from me, and when you do, the letter is as 
old as if it had come from the other side of the Atlantic. It 
is exactly the case with yours. 

Mr. Paterson has been more unfortunate than I. He has 
often complained of your neglect, as he thought it ; but I 
informed him of the fate my letters shared, and he was 
easy. However, he desired me last night to give you a hint, 
that he had lately vmtten you several long letters without 
receiving an answer to either. He is now at Princeton, at- 


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fil4 MBMOIRS OF AARON BURE. [Aged 34. 

tending court* I shall forward your letter that accompanied 
mine to him by a safe conveyance. , Paterson really loves 
you with the tenderest affection, and can scarcely speak of 
your state of health without shedding a friendly tear. As 
God is my judge, I could not .forbear shedding several 
when I read yours by Dr. Cutting, which is the first t have 
had from you in near five weeks. I was afraid all farther 
attempts to recover your health, so as to quatify you to exe- 
cute our plan, would be fruitless. In short, I thought you on 
the brink of eternity, ready to take your final farewell of thia 
wrangling world. The critical situation of your sister xn-» 
creased my distress, and extinguished every hope. How 
much more happy should I be if your sister's health took 
the same fortunate turn. Your ride to Litchfield must be 
doubly agreeable, as it will tend to establish your health and 
better hers. • 

I must now commimicate to you a disagreeable piece of 
news respecting myself* It shows how rare it is to find a 
man of real disinterested benevdence. Sears and Broome, 
I understand by Mr. Noel, who returned from Philadelphia 
a few days ago, have protested the bill I drew upon them 
last summer. Colonel Palfrey bought it, and has it returned 
to him, for what reasons I cannot say positively, but I sufr- 
pect they are determined not to assist me, although they 
were lavish of their offers when tbey supposed I never 
would be reduced to the necessity of accepting them. Such 
conduct is characteristic of excessive meanness of spirit, and 
I confess I am deceived in my opinion of them most egre- 
giously. True it is, that instances of this kind of behaviour 
often occur in our intercourse with mankind ; but, from th$ 
fortunes these men have made since the war, and the fre- 
quent reports of their generosity, I was led to imagine there 
was something more than mere idle compliment and osten^- 
tatious parade in their offers. I was deceived, and I hope it 
will be the last time. This affair has wounded my pride so 
sensibly, that I shall be extremely cautious in himo, I nmat 


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Aged 24.] MSM01R8 or aaron buaii. 215 

and will endeavour to adopt 8<»ne mode of drawii^ supplies 
fironft my certificates, which will be three years old next 
spring, and therefore ought to be taken up by Congress. 
By the table of depreciation pubUshed by Congress to regu- 
late the payment of the principal of their certificates, I am 
entitled to three hundred and fifty pounds, at the very low- 
est calculation, and this sum in specie. 

When you come here you must exert all your abilities 
in finance, to make me no longer dependant upon the bounty 
of friends ; or rather, I should say, your bounty, for you are 
the only person I haye borrowed m<Hiey of. TiU that time, 
my dear friend, can you keep me above water, and do jus- 
tice to yourself? Will you be able to extricate me firom the 
difficulties attending this bill ? In plain terms, can you spare 
me the amount of it ? My reputation suffers by having the 
bill protested, and J must, in a short time, send the money 
to Colonel Palfirey, for I am persuaded I have no fetrther 
ground to expect the least assistance firom Sears and 
Broome. Fail not, by any means, to write me on this sub- 
ject before you leave Paramus, and be careful how you 
send the letter. 

There is nothing but your health and my poverty that 
retards tny progress in study. They are fruitful sources of 
disquietude. When I lay me down to sleep, they often pre^ 
vent me from closing my eyes. When I look into a book, 
they present a variety of melancholy images to my imagina* 
tion, and imfit me for improvement. In all other respects 
I am situated to my wishes. Paterson treats me as a bosom 
friend. He has gone so far as to press me in the warmest 
terms to command his purse. How I shall be able to re- 
quite your firiendship is a matter beyond my penetration. I 
declare, before the Searcher of aU hearts, that I ccoisider 
your happiness and welfare as inseparable from my own, 
and that no vicissitudes of fortune, however prosperous or 
calamitous they may be, will ever tear you from my heart. 
Circumstanced as I now am,, words are the only proofs I can 


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give you of my gratitude and affection. Time will prove 
whether they are the cant of hypocrisy or the language of 
esteem. %^ 

I lent your horse to Mrs. Paterson about a week ago, to 

carry her to Elizabethtown to see her brother, who was to 

meet her there from New-York ; and disappointments in not 

seeing him, from day to day, have detained her much longer 

than was expected, and it is probable that she will not return 

until Thursday next ; I have therefore sent the boy down 

to Elizabethtown, or, more properly, shall send him in the 

morning, with Mr. Noel's horse, which will answer full as well 

in the wagon. This change will produce no inconvenience 

at all, and is better than to detain the boy till Mrs. Paterson 

returns. She was exceedingly well when she left home, and 

so was her little girl, which is handsome, good-tempered, fat, 

and hearty. I am very particular in presenting her your 

respects, and she is as particular in inquiring about you. 

Bring all the French books you can from Connecticut, 
particularly Chambaud's Exercises, and all the other ele- 
mentary books you have. I should be fond of having the 
perusal of Rousseau's Social Compact, if you can borrow it 
of Mrs. Prevost for me. I am quite rusty in the French, 
for I have neglected it totally for two or three months. 
The business of the office has engrossed so much of my 
attention, that I have not lately read any other book but 
Blackstone. I am still in the third volume. I digest thor- 
oughly as I advance. I have unravelled all the difficulties 
of the practice, and can do common business witli tolerable 

The horse will be delivered to you without a saddle. 
Gales, a young fellow who was studying with Mr. Pater- 
son, requested me to lend it to him to ride as far as New- 
ark last August, and he ran off to New-York, and I never 
could get the saddle again. This piece of villany I could 
not foresee, and it surprised almost as much as Arnold's. 
The grass has been very short, and I fancy the horse will 


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Aged 24.] MEMOIRS of aaron burr. 217 

be leaner than you expect. He is a most excellent saddle- 

I am extremely sorry to hear Mrs. Prevost and her sis- 
ter are unwell. Remember me to them in dig most friendly 
manner. Give my compliments also to Dr. Latimer, and 
all friends in the army near you. Don't forget Mrs. De 
Visme, the children, Dom. Tetard, and the family on the 
hill, although I hear they are strongly prejudiced against 
me. Mrs. Judith Watkins, as you well know, has spoken 
maliciously. She is far from being your friend. Every 
thing that passed one day at dinner in confidence respect- 
ing our reception at her house, has been told to her and 
her husband, with no small exaggerations, by some person 
of the company. Governor Bill Livingston related some 
particulars that astonished me, and added, that he and Mr» 
and Mrs. WatkinS thought it cruel in you to put such an 
unfair construction upon Watkins's behaviour to us. All 
this talk is beneath our notice. What I said to Bill was 
sufficient to erase any imfavourable impression from a 
candid mind. If it has not produced that effect, any frir- 
ther attempt to reftite the calumny will only s*erve to con- 
firm it. 

Mrs. P. Livingston is here, and desires her respects to 
you. She was glad to hear of the prospect you have of 
groviring hearty. She is an amiable woman, and loves you. 

Your friend, 

Robert Troup. 

The preceding correspondence contains in itself a tolera^ 
ble history of Colonel Burr's situation and employment 
from the summer of 1T79 until the autumn of 1780. Af- 
ter retiring from the army, he suffered most severely from 
ill health — that ill health was, in a great degree, produced 
by the fatigues and exposure on the 27lh and 28th of June, 
1779, at the battle of Monmouth. His cbnstitution was 
feeble, and had been shattered by his unparalleled vigilance 

Vol. L— E e 10 


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in the winter of 1778-79, whfle commanding the advanced 
post in Westchester. But the battle of Monmouth seemed 
to have given it the finishing stroke. 

The letters pf Judge Paterson and Colonel Troup afford 
the best evidence of his ill health, and of their affectionate 
devotion to him as friends. They are given at some length, 
because they present rare and extraordinary Examples of 
fidehty in friendshi]^. Both these gentlemen preceded 
Colonel Burr to the tomb. Both continued to respect, to 
esteem, and to love him, to their last hour. Their character 
requires no panegyric. Colonel Troup lived until the year 
1832. In manhood, for more than half a century, he ven- 
erated Colonel Burr for his genius, his talents, his chivalry, 
his intrepidity of character, his disinterestedness, his gener- 
osity. He deplored his weaknesses, and abhorred his 
vices. But when he viewed th6 whole man, from youth to 
more than threescore and ten years, he loved and respect- 
ed him. Both these distinguished citizens, as politicians, 
were opposed to Colonel Burr from the year 1788 until the 
close of their lives. 

In the autumn of 1780, Colonel Burr commenced the 
study of law with Judge Paterson, who resided at that 
time on the Rariton, about twenty miles from Brunswick, 
in New- Jersey. Here he remained till the spring of 1781. 
The judge was a man governed by fixed and settled rules. 
In the application of these rules Colonel Burr found that 
his study of the law would require much more time to pre- 
pare him for an examination than he was willing to devote. 
He concluded that there must be a shorter mode to get at 
the mechanical or practical part ; and, having determined to 
make the experiment, he left the office of Judge Paterson. 

From New-Jersey, in the spring of 1781, he removed to 
Haverstraw, then in Orange county, State of New- York. 
Residing at this place was Thomas Smith, Esq., formeriy 
of the city of New-York, and brother to William Smith, the 
king's attorney-general. Thomas Smith had a good law 


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Aged 24.] MEMOIRS of aaron burr. 219 

library, whicli had been removed from the city into Uje 
Highlands for safety. With Smith, Colonel Burr made 
an arrangement to study on a plan of his own. By the 
contract, for a specified sum to be paid, Smith was to de- 
vote certain portions of his time to^Burr. At these inter- 
views, he was to answer such questions as Burr propounded. 
The answers were taken down in writing, and formed th# 
basis of additional interrogatories ; while, at the same time, 
they aided in directing his attention to those legal points or 
authorities which were necessary for him to examine or 
read. During the time he remained at Haverstraw, he 
studied from sixteen to twenty hours a day. 

In the summer of 1780, Major Andre, of the British 
army, was in correspondence with Mrs. Arnold (the wife 
of General Arnold), under a pretext of supplying her, from 
the city of New- York, with millinery and other trifling arti- 
cles of dress. On the 2dd pf September, 1780, Major An- 
dre was captured, and the treason of the genej^l discover- 
ed. When this news reached West Point, Mrs. Arnold 
became, apparency, almost frantic. Her situation excitod 
the sympathy of some of the most distinguished officers in 
the American army. Mrs. Arnold, having obtained from 
General Washington a passport, and permission to join her 
husband in the city of New- York, left West Point, and on 
her way stopped at the house of Mrs. Prevost, in Paramus, 
where she stayed one night. On her arrival at Paramus the 
frantic scenes of West Point were renewed, and continued 
so long as strangers were present. Mrs. Prevost was 
known as the wife of a British officer, and connected with 
the royalists. In her, therefore, Mrs. Arnold could confide. 

As soon as they were left alone Mrs. Arnold became 
tranquillized, and assured Mrs. Prevost that she was heartily 
sick of the theatrics she was exhibiting. She stated that 
she had corresponded with the British commander — that she 
was disgusted with the American cause and those who had 
the manslgement of public afiairs — and that, through great 


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[Aged 24. 





persuasion and unceasing perseTerance, she had ultimately 
brought the general into an arrangement to surrender West 
Point to the British. Mrs. Arnold was a gay, accomplished, 
artful, and extravagant woman. There is no doubt, there- 
finre, that, for the purpose oi acquiring the means of gratify- 
*^^ ing an inordinate vanity, she contributed greatly to the utter 
^ "- t ruin of her husband, and thus doomed to everlasting infamy 
and disgrace all the fame he had acquired as. a gallant sol- 
dier at the sacrifice of his blood. Mrs. Prevost , subse- 
quently became the wife of Colonel Burr, and repeated to 
him these confessions of Mrs. Arnold. 

The preceding statement is confirmed by the following 
anecdote. Mrs. Arnold was the daughter of Chief-justice 
Shippen, of Pennsylvania. She was personally acquainted 
with Major Andre^ and, it is believed, corresponded with him 
previous to her marriage. In the year 1779-80, Col(ttel 
Robert Monis resided at Springatsbury, in the vicinity of 
Philadelphia, adjoining Bush Hill. Some time previous to 
Arnold's taking command of West Point, he was an appli- 
cant for the post. On a particular occasion Mrs. Arnold 
was dining at the house of Colonel Morris. After dinner, a 
friend of the family came in,jand congratulated Mrs. Arnold 
on a report that her husband was appointed to a di£krent, 
but more honourable conunand. The information affected 
her so much as to produce hysteric fits. Efforts were made 
to convince her that the general had been selected for a 
preferable station. These explanations, however, to the as- 
tonishment of all present, produced no effect. But, after 
the treason of Arnold was discovered, the family df Colonel 
Morris entertained no doubt that Mrs. Arnold was privy to> 
if not the negotiator for, a surrender of West Point to the 
British, even before the general had charge of the post. 

In the autumn of 1781 Colonel Burr left Haverstraw and 
went to Albany, with a determination to make an effort to be 
admitted to the bar. He continued his stiklies with the 
most untiring industry. He had his own apartments and 


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Aged 25.] JiBKoiES OF aaron BmtK. m 

his own library, sleeping, when he did deep, in a Uank^ 
on the floor. 

Colonel Burr's liberality in pecuniary matters had tend- 
ed to impair his private fortune. No man possessed a m(xe 
beneyolent heart. The following letter presents one case 
out oi many which might be enomerated, eraicing his gen-» 
erosity, and the delicate manner in which he could confer a 
favour. Major Alden had become embarrassed in his cir« 
cumstances, and was greatly at a loss for a profession, at 
the approaching close of the war, by which he might ac* 
quire a decent support. These reflections rendered him 
gloomy and desponding. At length he unbosomed himself 
to Colonel Burr, who Uius repKes to his letter : — 


lUritoQ, Fehnnij 15t]i, 17SI. 
Dear Sir, 

If it will solace your woes to know there is a heart that 
feels them as its own, that heart is mine. The thwarts of 
delicacy, which you would exclude from the catalogues of 
distress, are certainly the keenest humanity can feel. I 
know their force. I have felt them in all their pungency. 

A want of uniformity in the mode and object of my pur* 
suit has been long my misfortune, and has, I fear, been 
yours. There is a persevering firmness that will conquer 
embarrassment, and, aided with the secret smile of an ap- 
proving conscience, cannot fail to put us above the power of 
adversity. Thus ** we shall shun misfortunes, or shall learn 
to bear them." 

I have ever found the moment of indecision to be the mo- 
ment of completest anguish. When our resolutions are ta- 
ken widi determined finnness, they engross the mind and 
close the void of misery. Yes, my friend, save the pang of 
sympathy, I am happy. These are my halcyon days. Let 
us taste them together. We shall mutually heighten their 
relish. Let us rescue some moments oi rational enjoyment 


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223 MKiioiKS OF AARON BVRK. [Aged 25. 

from the wreck of impetuous time. Fri^ddship shall smooth 
the rugged path of science, and virtue cheer the way. 

If* law is your object, this situation is favourable to the 
pursuit. You shall have access to the Ubrary and office, 
without the customary expense. Your ostensible reason for 
coming here shall be to pursue your studies with me, under 
my friend Mr. Paterson. The two boys* I wish you to in- 
struct are of the sweetest tempers and the softest hearts. 
A frown is the severest punishment they ever need. Four 
hours a day will, I think, be fully sufficient for their instruc- 
tion. There are hours enough left for study — as many as 
any one can improve to advantage ; and these four will be 
fully made up to you by the assistance you will derive from 
such of us as have already made some small progress. 

If it is possible, we live together. At any rate, you shall 
Uve near me ; we shall at least meet every day, or oftener, if 
we please. Nothing will interrupt us. We will regulate 
our own amusements and pursuits. Here are no expensive 
diversions of any kind. Your salary shall be a genteel 
maintenance in such a situation. You shall have sixty 
pounds, New-York currency, which is more than I expend 
here. You will find it impossible to spend a farthing.except 
board and clothing. If, from this short sketch, you think 
the situation adapted to your views, of which I feel a pleas- 
ing assurance, acquaint me immediately, that I may pre- 
pare for your reception. 

I purpose bringing the boys here the beginning of April. 
Be here by that time, if possible. Get Mr. Thaddeus Burr 
to enclose your letter to Loudon the printer, who will be 
careful to forward it to me. How could I write to you? 
How divine your residence ? Never again harbour, for a 
moment, a surmise that derogates from my sincerity. 

* The font of Mrs. Prevost, Frederick and John B. The latter wae Judfe 
Prerost, of Looieiana. Mrs. Prevost was unable to expend such a sum on these 
jOQng gentlemen. It was a means adopted bf Colonel Burr delicatelf to assist, 
from his own purse, a desponding son of science. Similar instances of his lib* 
eralitj, in the course of his life, were numerous. 


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Aged 25.] MSM0IA8 of aa&on burr. 223 

My health is nearly estabUshed. I hare not enough to 
despise the blessing, but enough to reUsh every enjoyment 
oif life. Adieu, my friend ; may that cheerfulness of which 
you have been robbed return, and be as permanent as your 
merit or my affection. 

A. Burr. 


HaTeratrew, Ist March, 1781. 

Dear Sir, 

The preparations at New-York look tiiis way, and that 
inclines me to seek an asylum in Ne>v-Jersey, any part of 
which I believe will be safe, if Hudson's river is the object 
of the enemy. If I could get Mrs. De Visme's place, it would 
be most agreeable to Mrs. Smith. A few weeks will deter- 
mine me, and then I shall be in a situation to give you and 
Colonel Troup every assistance in my power. As it is 
your object to fit yourselves as soon as possible for admis* 
sion to the bar, without submitting to the drudgery of an at- 
torney's office, in which the advancement of the student is 
but too often a secondary consideration, I should cheerfully 
devote a sufficient part of my time to lead you through the 
practice of the law in all its parts ; and make no doubt, with 
close application on your part, I should be able in a short time 
to introduce you to the bar, well qualified to discharge the 
duties of the profession, with honour to yourselves, and safety 
to your clients. 

My library is now in a situation to be removed. Two 
boxes are missing, and I fear have fedlen a sacrifice to the 
liberty of the times. I only wait till the roads will permit 
me to remove the remainder down, as I think my books by 
no means safe where they now are, if the forts should be 

Your obedient servant, 

Thomas Smith. 


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[Aged 25. 

At this period Colonel Burr was closely engaged in liis 
studies. His constitution was somewhat renovated. His 
c(»rrespondence now became limited, and was principally 
confined to Mrs. PreTost. Here again the peculiarity al- 
ready referred to was in full operation. The greater part 
of this correspondence is in cipher. But portions of it that 
are not thus written are highly interesting, and give evi- 
dence that Mrs. Prevost possessed a cultivated mind. Het 
health was very feeble, and continued so, after ^he became 
the wife of Colonel Burr, until her decease. Some extracts 
from her letters will be given. 




Litchfield, Februarf 12tb, 1781. 

I am happy that there is a post established for the win- 
ter. I shall expect to hear from you every week. My ill 
health will not permit me to return your pimctuality. You 
must be contented with hearing once a fortnight. 

Your opinion of Voltaire pleases me, as it proves your 
judgment above being biased by the prejudices of others. 
The English, from national jealousy and enmity to the 
French, detract him. Divines, with more justice, as he ex- 
poses himself to their censure. It is even their duty to con- 
temn his tenets ; but, without being his disciple, we mav do 
justice to his merit, and admire him as a judicious, inge- 
nious author. 

I will not say the same of your system of education. 
Rousseau has completed his work. The indulgence you 
applaud in Chesterfield is the only part of his writings I 
think reprehensible. Such lessons from so able a pen are 
dangerous to a young mind, and ought never to be read till 
the judpnent and heart are established in virtue. If Rous- 
seau's ghost can reach this quarter of the globe, he will cer- 
tainly haunt you for this scheme — 'tis striking at the root of 
his design, and destroying the main purport of his admira- 
ble production. Les foiblesses de l'humanite„ is an easy 


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Aged 26j 



apology ; or rather, a license to practise intemperance ; and is 
particularly agreeable and flattering to such practitioners, as 
it brings the most virtuous on a level with the vicious. But 
I am fully of opinion that it is a much greater chimera than 
the world are willing to acknowledge. Virtue, like religion, 
degenerates to nothing, because it is convenient to neglect 
her precepts. You have, undoubtedly, a mind superior to 
the contagion. 

When all the world turn envoys, Chesterfield wHl be their 
proper guide. Morahty and virtue are not necessary quali* 
fications — ^those only are to be attended to that tend to the 
public weal. But when parents have no ambitious views,, 
or rather, when they are of the more exalted kind, when tbeyj 
wish to form a happy, respectable member of society — a^ 
firm; pleasing support to their declining life, EmiUus shall 
be the model. A man so formed must be approved by his 

\ i 

Creator, and more useful to mankind than ten thousand mod* 
em beaux. 

If the person whose kind partiaUty you mention is Pater- 
son, I confess myself exceedingly flattered, as I entertain 
the highest opinion of the perspicuity of his judgment. Say 
all the civil things you please for his solicitous attenti(m to 
my health. But if it should be Troup, which I think more 
probable, assure him of my most peVmanent gratitude. 


Theodosia Pbbvost. 




/ i 


Litchfield, 6th Mardi, 1781. 

^Where can be ? Poor sufiering soul y worthy 

a better fate. Heaven preserve him for his own sake ; for 
his distressed mother's. I pity her itom my heart, and la- 
ment my inability to alleviate her sorrows. I invoke abet- 
ter aid. May her " afilicted spirit find the only solace of 
its woes" — ^Religion, Heaven's greatest boon to man ; the 

VoL.L— Ff 10* 


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v\ rC Crv^tcj U W o>^ ^^,^^^ , t^ MjL<. u^ 


226 HKMOiRS OF AARON BURR. [Aged 25. 

only distinction he ought to boast. In this, he is lord of the 
creation ; without it, the most pitiable of all created things. 
How strangely we pass through life ! All acknowledge 
themselYes mortal and immortal ; and yet prefer the trifles 
of to-day to the treasures of eternity. Piety teaches resig- 
nation. Resignation without piety loses its beauty, and 
sinks into insensibility. Your beautiful quotation is worth 
more than all I can write in a twelvemonth. Continue wri- 
ting on the subject. It is both pleasing and improving. 
The better I am acquainted with it, the more charms I find. 
f%^ I \ Worlds should not purchase the little I possess. I promise 
^v^v*- \^>{ J myself many happy hours dedicated at the shrine of reU- 

"^^^S^ ' gion. 

>*-*^ ^*.v> j Yours, a£fectionately, 




A \\ 


Litchfield, May, 1781. 

Our being the subject of much inquiry, conjecture, and 
calumny, is no more than we ought to expect. My atten- 
tion to you was ever pointed enough to attract the observa- 
tion of those who visited the house. Your esteem more 
dian compensated for the worst they ^ould say. When I 
am sensible I can mike you and myself happy, I will 
readily join you to suppress their malice. But, till I am 
confident of this, I cannot think of our union. Till then I 
shall tcjie shelter under the roof of my dear mother, where, 
by joining stock, we shall have sufficient to stem the torrent 
of adversity. 

You speak of my spirits as if they were at my command, 
or depressed only from perverseness of temper. In these 
you mistake. Believe me, you cannot wish their return 
more ardently than I do. I would this moment consent to 
become a public mendicant, could I be restored to the same 
tranquillity of mind I enjoyed this time twelvemonth. 

llie influence my letters may have on your studies is 


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>>aJU_ «t l^i.<jM*x«^ 

-^^iC i{ T* **''^ 


Aged 25.] MEMOIRS of aaron B¥RR. 2^ 

imaginary. The idea is so trite that I was in hopes it was 
worn from your mind. My last year's trials are vouchers. 
I was always writing with a view to please you, and as 
often failed in the attempt. If a desire for my own happi* | 
ness cannot restore me to myself, pecuniai^ motives never 
can. I wish you to study for your own sake ; to ensure 
yourself respect and independence ; to ensure us the com- 
forts of Ufe, when Providence deigns to fit our hearts for 
the enjoyment. I shall never look forward virith confidence y. \ 

till your pride extends to that. I had vainly flattered my- 
self that pride was inseparable to true love. In yoiurs I find 
my error ; but cannot renounce my idea of its being a neces- 
sary support to, and the o^y security /or, permapiemt affec- 

You see by the enclosed how ready my friends are to 
receive you, and promote your interest. I wish you may 
be fortunate in executing aunt Clark's business. My 
health and spirits are neither better nor worse than when 
you left me. I thank you for your attention to Bird's pre- 
scription. Adieu, 

Theodosia Prevost, 

FROM MRS. theodosia PREVOST. 

Sharon, September 11th, 1781. 

My friend and neighbour, Mr. Livingston, vrill have the 
pleasure of presenting you this. You will find him quite 
the gentleman, and worthy your attention. 

Enclosed is a letter to my sister, which must be deUvered 
by yourself. You know my reasons too well to infer from 
my caution that I entertain the least doubt of Mr. Living- 
ston's punctuality. 

Monsieur Tetard is gone to the manor, summoned by 
Mrs. Montgomery, on pretence of his being the only 9urvi* 
ving witness to the general's vrill. The business that was 
to have detained him but a few days has kept him these sisc 
weeks. I cannot account for his delay, unless his extrava- 


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gant encomiums on the progress of a friend of yours ha# 
proved a stimulation to those of superior talents. He ex- 
aggerates exceedingly in extolling his pupils. Those whose 
expectations are raised from his description must prepare 
themselves for disappointment. 

Mr. and Mrs. Reeve were well a few days ago. She 
rides every morning to visit the boy, and returns before 
breakfast. I fear they vnll disappoint me in the promised 

We were obliged to Dr. Cutting for the most pleasing ac- 
count of your health and spirits. Also, of your great prog- 
ress in law. Judge Hobart expects Colonels Burr and 
Troup will make his suite to the October court, where he 
hopes to usher them, with all the eclat due to their merit. 
He counts the weeks, which he has now reduced to five. 
While the warmth of friendship animates his countenance, 
his heart swells with pride at the honour of patronising two 
such characters. He must not be disappointed ; this must 
be the route, or he will beUeve himself slighted. I am 
obliged to his zeal, as it will procure us the pleasure of see- 
ing you. The sight of an old acquaintance is quite a phe- 
nomenon. I am not surprised that genuine hospitality is 
fled to cottages. You will find it k la mstique chez votre 

Theodosia Prevost. 

from major r. alden. 

Fairfield, 28th Febnuuy, 178L 

Dear Bitrr, 

Your letter of the 15th inst. pleases me. You have a 
heart that feels : a heart susceptible of tender firiendship. 
Life has not a smgle charm to compare with such sensa- 
tions. You know too well how to excite such emotions. 
Happy for us. These expel the keenest pangs. There is 
no such thing as real happiness. At best, it is but a delu- 


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Aged 26.] MEMOIRS of aarom burs. 229 

sion. We make our own pleasmes as we do our troables. 
Friendship will heighten the one and moderate the other. 

I have been tortured with the anxiety of suspense. It 
has given me the most poignant distress. It disordered my 
mind ; at times, almost drove me to despair. Some of my 
friends saw the effect, but could not conjecture the cause. 
You alone could penetrate the feelings of my hearty you 
alone are in possession of that evidence which will convict 
me of my weakness ; my want of fortitude. I dare intrust 
you. I feel the influence of your friendship. To a heart 
like yours, this will prove the sincerity and affection of mine. 
I bid adieu to camp, having completed my business, 
with my thanks to our worthy commander-in-chief for his 
attention to my character. The discharge he gave me 
equalled my wishes and exceeded my expectations. I have 
enjoyed the most rational satisfaction for three days past. I 
have commenced student.. Dr. Johnson has given me my 
plan of studies, and free access to his library. My ambition 
is not great, nor my views unbounded. I shall proporticHi 
the means to the object. If I persevere with attention, I 
have something more than wishes to build upon. Nothing 
within the compass of my abilities, that is justifiable, will be 
left untried, to gratify my reasonable desires. 

I know that your request proceeded entirely from your 
friendship for me, and that you felt happy that it was in 
your power to oblige me. I feel the force of your kind- 
ness, but must deny myself the pleasure of spending some 
months with my friend. My time is short; age presses 
upon me. Four years have been devoted to my country, 
for which I have received no compensation. 

It gives me pleasure to hear that your health is such 
that you can be thankful for the blessing, and are in a 
situation to enjoy yourself in the pursuit of your studies. 
My heart is sincerely interested in your happiness. Let 
me know your feelings, that I may know how to refine 
mine. Your friendship and letters add a continual charm 


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to my life, and will always please the heart and secure the 
affection of, youis. 

With sincerity, 

R. Aldsn. 


Albany, 5Ui June. 1781. 

I was absent when yours of the 10th ultimo came, and 
therefore did not receive it till the first inst. You may be 

assured will one day repent his insolence. Uniformity 

of conduct and great appearance of moderation are all that 
can be put in practice immediately. The maxim of a man 
whom neither of us esteem tery highly is excellent on this 
occasion — " Suaviter in modo, fortiter in reP See, my 
dear Theodosia, what you bring upon yourself by having 
once piddled at Latin. The maxim, however, would bear 
sheets of comment and days of reflection. I second the 

just pride of , in being averse to crouch to a villain. 

Your/ letter to E. would have every influence that mine 
possibly could. 

These crosses are of that class which, though they may 
perplex for a moment (a moment is. too much), yet cannot 
affect our real happiness. That mind is truly great which 
can bear with equanimity the trifling and unavoidable vexa- 
tions of life, and be affected only by those events which 
determine our substantial bliss. Every period, and every 
situation, has a portion of these trifling crosses ; and those 
who expect to avoid them all, or conquer them all, must be 

wretched without respite. Witness . I am half vexed 

at the manner in which you speak of what you term " the 

sorrows of P They are just of this trifling kind. Say 

and think no more of them. Their impression was mo- 
mentary, and is long past. 

G.'s uniformity of conduct for some time has established 
his character, and crushed the malice of his. enemies. He 
has, however, mingled swne address in his deportment— 


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Aged 23.] MEMOIRS of aaron burr. 2dtl 

has made visits, and some acts of civility, to his. avowed 
enemies, by which means he has gained some and silenced 
others. His whole conduct, his language, and even his 

thoughts, seem to have in view the happiness of . I 

beUeve this idea is impressed on him every hour of his life. 


A. Burr. 


Albany, 21it October^ 1781. 


I do myself the honour to enclose you several letters, 
which were intended, I believe, to introduce me to your 
acquaintance, perhaps to your friendship. I am particularly 
unfortunate to see neither Mr. Hobart nor yourself pn the 
present occasion; the more so, as I find a rule of unex- 
pected rigour, which, if strictly adhered to, must eflfectually 
exclude me from this bar. Mr. Judge Yates gives me lea- 
son to hope this rule may be enlarged. If it should be 
deemed unadvisable to make one of such latitude as n^ay 
include me within a general description, perhaps my par- 
ticular situation may be thought to claim particular indul- 

Before the revolution, and long before the existence of 
the present rule, I had served some time with an attorney 
of another state. At that period I could have availed my- 
self of this service ; and, surely, no rule could be intended 
to have such retrospect as to injure one whose only mis- 
fortune is having sacrificed his time, his constitution, and 
his fortune, to his country. 

It would give me sensible regret were my admission to 
establish a precedent which might give umbrage to the 
bar ; but, should your opinion accord with my wishes, with 
respect to the indulgence due to my particular ca^e, the ex- 
pression of it, to any gentleman of the profession, would 
doubtless remove the possibility of discontent. 


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232 MBMoiRS or AiRON BVRB. [Aged 35* 

Perhaps I assume a freedom which personal acquaint- 
ance only could warrant I beg, sir, you will ascribe it to 
the reUance I am taught to place on your goodness, and 
the confidenpe with which your character inspires even 
those who have no other title to your notice. 

Whatever may be the success of my present designs, I 
shall do myself the honour of waiting on you, and assuring 
you, in person, of the respect and esteem with which 
I am your obedient servant, 

A. Burr. 

Colonel Burr frequently impressed upon those with whom 
he was in the habit of a regular correspondence, the advan- 
tage of committing to paper daily, in the form of a journal, 
such thoughts or ideas as occurred and were deemed desira- 
ble to repeat. He adopted this form in his communications 
with Mrs. Prevost. The following is a specimen : — 

Albany, Thursday, December 3d, 1781. 
I am at length arrived at my destined haven, and, what is 
very unusual for me, have been successful in several trivial 
circumstances, such as getting over the ferry (which is diffi 
cult at this season), finding temporary quarters for my che 
vaux virithout difficulty or delay. I cannot help regarding 
these as harbingers of good luck. I am, however, not for- 
tunate in finding Judge Yates. He is from home. 6. civil, 
but unwell. The room promised me is not fitted; must 
tkerefore seek other lodgings. Bon soir. Visit me in my 

Friday nig^t, December 4Ui. 
Till sunset I was in doubt whether I should not be obli- 
ged to leave Albany for want of quarters. Have at length 
found tolerable. No price yet fixed. Probably not less 
than trois piasters the week. A day completely lost, and I, 
of course, in ill humour with every thing but thee. 


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Aged 25.] MEMOIRS or aa&on BirEm. 233 

Satuzday, December Stlu 
A sick headache this whole day. I earned it by eating 
last night a hearty suj^r of Dutch sausages, and going to 
bed immediately after. I am surprised it did not operate in 
the way of my disorder, which was formerly the certain 
consequence of every error in diet ; but no sympt(»n of that, 
though I was very restless. 

I took the true Indian cure for the headache. Made a 
light breakfast of tea, stretched myself on a blanket before 
the fire, fasted till evening, and then tea again. I thought, 
through the whole day, that if you could sit by me, and 
stroke my head with your Uttle hand, it would be well ; and 
that, when we arc formally united, far from deeming a return 
of diis disorder un malheur, I should esteem it a fortunate 
apology for a day of luxurious indulgence, which I should 
not otherwise allow myself or you. 

Most unexpectedly, Lewis called upon me this evening, 
civilly oflfered me his house, and asked me to dine. I was 
wrong, I think, to accept his invitation, but this did not strike 
me till I had engaged. .Must dine there to-morrow. 

Sundays 6ih December. 

This is the third day in town, and no business done; 
These two days past I have been studying the second vdi- 
ume of Rousseau. G. is returned. He never appeared more 
unlike himself. I was somehow uncommonly stupid, and, 
would you believe it, even awkward. Said very little, and 
that litde with hesitation. You know there are days when 
every thing goes against one. Paid little attention to any- 
body (that Uttle, somehow, ill timed), and received still less 
from them. 

How could we forget Latimer ? He has sung Theodo- 
sia's praise among the southern army in terms with which 
her best friends must be pleased. He has also established 

Vol. I.— G g 


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the character of A. Burr. Quackenbush is determined to 
be civil. Says his visits will be frequent. 

Yates is returned. More of him to-morrow. An old, 
weather-beaten lady, Miss Depeyster, has given the whole 
history of Burr, and much of Theo., but nothing unfavour- 
able. In a place where Burr thought himself a stranger, 
there is scarce any age or sex that does not, either from in- 
formation or acquaintance, know something of him. 

I am surprised I forgot to advise you to get a Franklin 
fireplace. They have not the inconvenience of stoves, are 
warm, save wood, and never smoke. The cost will not be, 
probably, more than ten or fifteen dollars, which will be 
twice saved this winter in wood and comfort^ and they may 
be moved anywhere. If you have fears about hrat* I have 
none. He will never bum himself but once ; and, by way 
of preventive, I would advise you to do that for him. It 
will be put up in a few hours by anybody. I am in doubt 
whether it will be best to have it in the common room or 
one of the back rooms. The latter will have many advan- 
tages. You may then have a place sacred to love, reflec- 
tion, and books. This, however, as. you find best; but that 
you have one I am determined, unless you can give some 
better reason against it than I at present know of. Indeed, 
I would wish you had two. You will get them with no 
double from the Salisbury furnace. It is of the first im- 
portance that you suffer as little as possible the present vnn* 
ter. It may, in a great measure, determine your health ever 
after. I confess I have still some transient distrusts that 
you set too little value on your own life and comfort. Re- 
member, it is not yours alone ; but your letters shall convince 
me. I waive the subject. 

I am not certain I shall be regularly punctual in writing 
you in this manner every day when I get at business ; but 
1 shall, if possible, devote one quarter of an hour a day to 

* Ifrs. Pieroet*! yoimgest chikL 


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<r o^fj . ^ A-t^^^ / " ul) • i»v 


Aged 25.] MEMOIRS of aaron burr. 


you. In return, I demand one half of an hour every day 
from you ; more I forbid, unless on special occasions. This 
half hour is to be mine, to be invariably at the same time, 
and, for that purpose, fixed at an hour least Uable to inter- 
ruption, and as you shall find most convenient. Mine caimot 
be so regular, as I only indulge myself in it when I am fa- 
tigued with business. The children will have each their 
sheet, and, at the given hour, write, if but a single word. 
Burr, at this half hour is to be a kind of watchword. 

Monday, 7th December. 

I keep always a memorandum for you, on which, when I 
think of any thing at any time of day that I wish to write, 
I make a short note in a manner which no other person 
would understand. When I sit down to write I have noth- 
ing to do but look at my memorandum. I would recom- 
mend the same to you, unless you rather choose to write at 
the moment when you think of any thing. 

I have continually felt some apprehensions about the suc- 
cess of Troup with the court. The Springs are but twenty- 
eight miles from Albany ; I will meet you there. 

Phil. Van Rensselaer, whom I have never before seen, 
has been to introduce himself, and tender his services of 
every kind. He is of the most respectable and richest in- 

Tuesday^ 8th Decembec. 

No place yet ; but, that time need not be lost, I have bee^ 
looking over Rousseau's 4th volume. I imagine gath- 
ered thence his sentiments on the subject of jealousy. If 
so, he has grossly mistaken the ideas of Rousseau. Do you 
discover a symptom of it ? Far otherwise. You see only --^ 
confidence and love. That jealousy for which you are an \» JJ- 

advocate, he condemns as appertaining to brutes and sensu- I 
alists. Discard, I beseech you, ideas so degrading to tru©. / 




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1^36 MBMoiRB ov jLARoir BUUL [Aged 25. 

love. I am mortified with the reflection that they were ever 

I think ■ must have taken pains to hare overlooked 
the following paragraph, when, in enumerating the duties of 
a woman towards a lover or husband, he makes it principal- 
ly to consist " in respecting themselves, in order to acquire 
respect. How delightful are these privileges ! How respect- 
able are they ! how cordially do men prize them, when a 

woman knows how to render them estimable." I fear 

will be convinced of this but too late. I am glad to find, how- 
ever, that the idea so often urged (in vain) by me, is not a 
mere vagary of my own brain, but is suj^orted by so good 

Wednetdaj, dth December. 
I have this day made a feint at law. But, were my life at 
stake, it could not command my attention. 

Thonday, 10th December. 
We have about twelve or fourteen inches of snow. When 
you read my letters I wish you would make minutes at the 
time of such facts as require an answer ; for, if you trust 
your memOTy till the time of writing, you will omit half you 
would, otherwise say. 

Friday, 11th December. 

I really wish much to know the conduct of . It is, 

however, more curiosity than anxiety. It would be childish 
to build any part of one's happiness on a basis so unstable. 

The Van Rensselaer before mentioned, and henceforth to 
be designated by LL, proves to be a phenomenon of goodness 
and (can you believe it) even tenderness. Tenderness, I 
hear you cry, in a HoUandois ! But hold your injustice ; 
the character and fine heart of Van Rensselaer will, I think» 
in future, remove your prejudice, especially when you add 
to this his marked attention and civility. 


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Aged 2&.] MXMoms of airoic BiniR. 287 

Saturday, 12th December. 

Van Rensselaer finds fault with my quarters, which, in- 
deed, are far removed from elegance, and, in some respects, 
from convenience. He insists that I suffer him to provide 
me better. 

I have not hitherto had an hour of Yates. His reasons, 
however, have been good. On Monday we are to mangle 

Sunday, 13th December. 

Van Rensselaer has succeeded perfectly to my wish, I 
am with two maidens, aunts of his, obliging and (incredi • 
ble ! !) good-natured. The very paragon of neatness. Not 
an article of furniture, even to a teakettle, that would soil a 
muslin handkerchief. I have two upper rooms. I was in- 
terrupted at the line above, and cannot now, for my Ufe, rec- 
ollect what I was intending to write. I leave it, however, 
to plague you as it has done me. 

Monday, 14th December. 

I really fear Yates is playing the fool with me. Still eva- 
sive, though plausibly so. I have just had an interview. 
To-morrow I must and will come to a positive eclaircisse- 

I am determined, in future, when doubt arises in my mind 
whether I shall write a thing or not, invariably to write it. You 
recollect ^'s advising that Carlos* should learn the vio- 
lin. G. was unkind enough to remind him that he was for- 
merly opposed to that opinion. There was a degree of in- 
sult in this reproach of which I did not think G. capable. I 
truly believe he did not reflect on the tendency of it. I do 
not remember that he is apt to take such unfair advantage 
of his friends. Happy they who can make improvement of 
each other's errors. The necessary, but dear-bought knowl- 

* A negioboy bdonging to Colonel Burr. 


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edge of experience, is earned at double cost by those who 
reap alone. 

Since I left you, I have not taken pen in hand without in- 
tending to write you. I am happy in having done it, for I 
now feel perfectly relieved. 

Tuesday, 15th December. 
Yesterday was partly a day of business. The evening 
wholly and advantageously so. This day has been rather a 
feint. Yates engaged. I beg ten thousand pardons of Miss 
Depeyster ; she is our warm friend and advocate. One Bo- 
garty at Tappan, is the scoundrel. 

Wednesday, 16th December. 

I perceive this letter-writing virill not answer ; though I 
write very little, it is still half my business ; for, whenever I 
find myself either at a loss what to do, or any how discom- 
posed or dull, I fly to these sheets, and even if I do not 
write, I ponder upon it, and in this way sacrifice many 
hours without reflecting that time passes away. Yates still 
backward, but the day tolerably spent. 

I have also been busy in fixing a Franklin fireplace for 
myself. I shall have it completed to-morrow. I am re- 
solved you shall have one or two of them. You have no 
idea of their convenience, and you can at any time remove 

I expect to despatch Carlos to-morrow. I think I have 
already mentioned that I wrote you from Kinderhook, and 
also this week by Colonel Lewis, enclosed to our friend at 

An engagement of business to-day and this evening with 
Yates, prevents me preparing for Carlos as I e]q)ected. 

A. Burr. 


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Aged 25.] MBMaiRs of aaron burr. 


In the autumn of 1781, as may be seen by the preceding 
correspondence, Colonel Burr was in Albany, preparing 
himself for admission to the bar. Judge Yates rendered 
him essential service on the occasion. His fHendship and 
kindness were appreciated, and gratefully recollected. At 
that time Chief-justice Richard Morris, Robert Yates, and 
John Sloss Hobart composed the bench of the Supreme 
Court of the State of New- York. All these gentlemen 
were friendly to Burr, and treated him with the utmost 
courtesy ; but for Judge Yates he entertained, during the 
continuance of his life, the most profound respect and ven- 

By the rules of the court it was required that candidates 
for admission should have pursued a course of legal studies 
not less than three years previous to presenting themselves 
for examination. Colonel Burr applied to the court to dis- 
pense with this rule in his case. The application was op- 
posed with great zeal by all the members of the bar ; and, 
as no counsellor would make the necessary motion on the 
subject, Burr was not only compelled to do it himself, but 
to argue the question with the ablest of the profession. 

After hearing the argument, the court determined that, 
as he had been employed in the service of his country, 
when he might, under other circumstances, have been a law- 
student, they would dispense with the rigour of the rule so 
far as it appUed to the period of study ; but that no indul- 
gence would be granted in reference to the necessary quali- 
fications. In pursuance of this decision he underwent a 
severe and critical examination by some of the most emi- 
nent members of the bar^ who were anxious for his rejec- 


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tMO MBMoiRs OF AABOir BURE. [Aged 26. 

tion. The examination, however, resulted in a triumphant 
admission that the candidate was duly qualified to prac- 
tise ; and he was accordingly licensed as an attorney, on 
the 19th day of January, 1782. And at "a supreme court 
of judicature, held for the State of New-York, at the City 
Hall of the city of Albany, on the 17th day of April, 1782, 
Aaron Burr haying, on examination, been found of compe- 
tent ability and learning to practise as counsellor," it was 
ordered that he be accordingly admitted. 

Soon after Colonel Burr commenced the practice of law 
in the city of Albany, he invited his friend and brother sol- 
dier, Major W. Popham, to join him, and pursue a course of 
legal studies. This invitation was given with his accus^ 
tomed kindness. About the period of Burr's marriage, 
Major Popham replies. 


Firiikm, AufUft 16tb, 1782 

Yesterday I was accidentally favoured with your friendly 
letter of the 8d of May, from Litchfield, which was pecu- 
liarly agreeable, as it contained the first official accounts I 
have had of you since my leaving Albany, and dispelled a 
train of gloomy reflections which your supposed long 
silence had suggested. 

The approbation you have given of my conduct, in an 
aflfair in which you have so generously interested yourself, 
is very flattering. A detail of the circumstances which 
rendered it necessary to postpone the prosecution of my 
intended plan, would be too prolix for the subject of a let- 
ter. They would not present one pleasing reflection ; and 
I love you too well to give you pain. Suspend, therefore, 
your curiosity and your opinion, until the duties of the field 
permit me to see you, when you shall be satisfied. 

* Major Popham, fifty-four years after the date of this letter, tttendad m a 
pall-bearer the fogaenl of Colonel Burr, the friend of his yooth. 


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Aged 25.] UMMoiM of ajlron bura. 241 

I hope the alterations you have made in your plan of life 
may equal your most sanguine wishes,, I am pleased that 
you have taken a house in Albany, and smcerdy congratu- 
late you on an event that promises you so much happiness. 
May you long enjoy all the blessings which can flow from 
that happy state, for which Heaven has so remarkably de- 
signed you. 

But why am I requested to " say nothing about fibliga' 
tions,^^ while you continue to load me with new ones ? Or, 
why should I be denied the common privilege of every lib* 
oral mind, that of acknowledging the obligation which I 
liave not the power of cancelling ? Yes, my friend, your 
generous offer claims my warmest thanks; but the very 
principle which excites my gratitude forbids me to accept it. 

Dr. L informs me you have written twice to me. One 
of the letters is lost. Will you speedily supply the defi- 
ciency ? If you can spare an hour firom business, reture- 
ment, or love, let me entreat you to devote it to your 
friend. I cannot tell you how much I long to hear from 
you. Adieu. 

Yours sincerely, 



Albany, December 33d, 1781. 

My dear Theodosia is now happy by the arrival of Car- 
los. This was not wishing you a happy Christmas, but 
actually making it so. Let all our compliments be hence* 
forth practical. The language of the world sounds fulsome 
to tastes refined by the sweets of afiection. 

I see mingle in the transports, of the evening the frantic 
little Bartow.* Too eager to embrace the bliss he has in 
prospect; frustrating his own purposes by inconsiderate 
haste ; misplacing every thing, and undoing what he meant 

* Mn. Ptefoet*! mb. 

Vol L— Hh ^ 


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to do. It will only confute you. Nothing better can be 
done than to tie him, in order to expedite his own buainoM. 

That you might not be cheerful alone, I have obeyed the 
orders of your heart (for you cannot, even at this distance, 
conceal them) by a determination to take a social, friendly 
supper with Van Rensselaer. 

You wrote me too much by Dom. I hope it was not from 
a fear that I should be dissatisfied with less. It is, I con- 
fess, rather singular to find fault with the quantity, whin 
matter and manner are so delightful. You must, however, 
deal less in sentiments and more in ideas. Indeed, in the 
letter in answer to my last, you will need to be particulariy 
attentive to this injunction. I think constantly of the ap- 
proaching change in our affairs, and what it demands. Do 
not let us, like children, be so taken with the prospect as to 
lose sight of the means. 

Remember to write me facts and ideas, and don't tor- 
ment me with compliments, or yourself with sentiments to 
which I am abready no stranger. Write but little, and very 
little at once. I do not know for what reason, Theodosia, 
but I cannot feel my usual anxiety about your health, 
though I know you to be ill, and dangerously so. One 
reason is, that I have more belief in your attention to your* 

Your idea about the water was most delightful. It kept 
me awake a whole night, and led to a train of thoughts and 
sensations which cannot be described. Indeed, the whole 
of your letter was marked with a degree of confidence and 
reliance which augurs every thing that is good. The 
French letter was truly elegant, as also that enclosed in com- 
pliance with my request. 

If Reeves has received the money upon the order I gave 
'him, he may send me by Carlos about twenty-five guineas, 
if he can spare so much of it. I am in no present want. 

Pardon me for not answering your last. My mind is so en- 
grossed by new views and expectations, that I camiot disen- 


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Aged 26.] ME1IOIK8 df aarom bube. 243 

gage it. I hare not, these fiye days past, slept more than 
two hours a night, and yet fed refreshed and well. Your 
presentiments of my illness on a certain eyening were wide 
from truth: believe me, you have no talent that way. 
Leave it to odiers. 

I think, if you ke^ Carlos two nights, it will serve ; but 
keep him longer rather than fatigue yourself. Adieu. 


On the 2d of July, 1782, Colonel Burr was married to 
Mrs. Theodosia Prevost. In April preceding he had en- 
tered into the practice of the law in the city of Albany. His 
attention to business was unremitted. In consequence, he 
soon found himself crowded with clients from every quarter 
of the state. During his residence in Albany, his mind was 
exclusively engrossed with his profession and his family. In 
the education of Mrs. Burr's children by her first husband 
he took a deep interest. Neither labour nor expense was 
regarded. It was his wish that they should be accomplished, 
as well as educated men. 

The preliminary treaty of peace having been signed. Col- 
onel Burr resolved to remove his family to the city of New- 
York so soon as the British should evacuate it. Here he 
anticipated (and in this he was not disappointed) an exten- 
sive practice. On the 20th of November, 1781, the legi^ 
lature of the State of New-York passed an act disqualifying 
from practice, in the courts of the state, all ** attorneys, sdi- 
citors, and counsellors at law," who could not produce sat- 
isfactory certificates, showing their attachment and devotion 
to the whig cause during the then pending war with Great 
Britain. This act was in ftill force at the peace of 1783, 
aid remained so, without any attempt to modify it, until 
March, 1785, when a bill was introduced into the legisla- 
ture to repeal certain sections of it, so far as they operated 
upon individuals thereiV|i&ned. The bill was lost. But, 


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Oil the 4th of April, 1786^ the lestrictioii tbufr imposed cm the 
tory lawj^s was remored by an act of the legislature. 

The law of 1781, prerioiis to its lepeal, had operated most 
favourably for die whig lawyers. Those of talents and 
standing, such as Colonel Burr and others, had obtained a run 
of business which enabled them to compete with the most 
profound of their Uxry rirals. 

It was supposed that the British troops would evacuate 
the city of New- York in the spring or early in the summer 
of 1783 ; but they remained until the 25th of Nov^nber of 
that year. Cdonel Burr applied to his firiend, Thomas Bar- 
tow, to procure him a house for the accommodation of his 
family, which he accordingly did. 


New-Yorii, i^iil leih, 1782. 

Dear Sir, 
I received your agreeable favour a few days ago, and am 
hiqppy to congratulate you on the establishment of a peace : 
hope I shall soon have the pleasure of seeing you in town. 
I have procured you a good house in Maiden-lane, at the 
rate of two hundred pounds a year. The rent to ccxnmence 
when the troops leave the city. Doct(»r Brown can inform 
you more particulars about it, as he went with me to view 
it Before I engaged this house, I consulted Mrs. Clark. 
Shis {uroposed her house in Broadway, but could not get the 
tenant out, so that she gave her conaetA to this. 
Very respectfully yours, 

Thomas Bartow. 

from mrs. burr. 

Albany, 2dth Maidi, 17d^ 

Some think absence tends to increase affection ; the greater 
part that it wears it away. I believe neither, but that it only 
tends to prove how £ar the healt^^ capable of loving; or 
rather, whether it is real or imaghiary. When the latter. 


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Aged 27.} MsxoiRB ov xulqh bqaiu 245 

dvery object that amoses, blots oat the icka of the absent i 
we find that they are not so necessary to our happiness aa 
we had fancied. But when that love is real, what can amuse, 
what engage the mind, to banish, for a single mstant, the 
object of its delight ? It hates every necessity that wrests 
it an instant from the contemplation of its beauties ; its vir- 
tues are ever presenting themselves to increase our regret, 
and suggest innimierable fears for its safety. Such have 
been the occupaticms of this day. I tremble at every noise : 
new apprehensions are ever alarming me. Every tender 
sensation is awake to thee. 

26th March. 

My extreme anxiety operated severely upon my health. I 
have n<A had so ill a turn in some months. The remedies 
of S. prove but little more efficacious than those of G. I do 
without either. Various are the conjectures respecting your 
errand. All think me of the party. My spirits need, my 
heart grows impatient for your return. Every countenance 
speaks for you, while Theodosia grieves. 

27th March. 

My health is rather better. I have just this moment 
heard of General Schuyler's going ; have only Ume to tell you 
I rejoice at the enclosed. It will save your hiury and anx- 
iety Popham has written and engaged for your attendance 

Theodosia Burr 

When the British were about to evacuate the city of New- 
York, and it was ascertained that Colonel Burr had made 
the necessary arrangements to settle there, his whig friends 
became anxious that he should receive an appointment. 
Among those who urged this measure was Judge Hobart» 
who had ever entertained an exalted opinion of his talents 
and business habits. As soon as Colonel Burr was informed 
of the friendly views entertained by the judge, he vinrote him, 


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expressing his unwillingnets to be conndered a competitor 
with any gentleman for an i^pointment. To thb he re- 
ceived an answer. 


Jum 17kh, 1783. 

Your favour has been received. However pure your 
views may be, I fear you must be contented with the char- 
acter of a private gentleman so long as you determine to 
avoid a competition ; for I am told there are long lists of 
appUcants for all the offices in the city and county of New- 

With great respect, yours, 

John Sloss Hobart. 

FROM MRS. burr. 

Albany, August 14th, 1783. 

How unfortunate, my dearest Aaron, is our present separa- 
tion. I never shall have resolution to consent to another. 
We must not be guided by others. We are certainly formed 
of different materials ; and our undertakings must coincide 
with them. 

A few hours after I wrote you by Colonel Lewis, our 
sweet infant* was taken ill, very ill. My mind and spirits 
have been on the rack from that moment to this. When 
she sleeps, I watch anxiously ; when she wakes, anxious 
fears accompany every motion. I talked of my love towards 
her, but I knew it not till put to this unhappy test. I know 
not whether to give her medicine or withhold it : doubt and 
terror are the only sensations of which I am sensible. She 
has slept better last night, and appears more lively this 
morning, than since her illness. This has induced me to 
postpone an express to you, which I have had in readiness 

* The unfortunate Mn. Alston, of whom much w^U be said hereafter. 


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Aged 28.] xsKouts of iaron smut. 247 

since yesterday. If this meets you, I need not dwell upon 
my wkh. 

I will only put an injuncticm on your riding safast, or in 
&e heaty or dew. Remember your presence is to support^ 
to conscde your Theo., perhaps to rejoice with hf r at the 
restoration of our much-loved child. Let us encourage diis 
hope ; encourage it, at least, till you see me, which I flatter 
myself will be before this can reach you. Some kind spirit 
will whisper to my Aaron how much his tender attention is 
wanted to support his Theo. : how much his love is neces* 
sary to give her that fortitude, that resolution, which nature 
has denied her but through his medium. Adieu. 


from mrs. burr. 

New-York, March 22d, 1784. 

My Aaron had scarce quitted the door when I regretted 
my passiveness. Why did I consent to his departure? 
Can interest repay the sacrifice ? can aught on earth com* 
pensate for his presence ? Why did I hesitate to decide ? 
Ten thousand fears await me. What thought su^ested 
my assent ? The anxiety he might suffer were he to meet 
with obstacles to raising the sum required; should his 
views be frustrated for want of the precaution this journey 
might secure; his mortification; mine, at not having the 
power to relieve him, were arguments that silenced my long- 
ing wish to hold him near me ; near me for ever. My Aaron, 
darlr is the hour that separates my soul from itself. 

Thus pensive, surrounded with gloom, thy Theo. sat, be- 
wailing thy departure. Every breath of wind whistled ter- 
ror ; every noise at the door was mingled with hope of thy 
return, and fear of thy perseverance, when Brown arrived 
vrith the word — ^wifcarAed— the wind hi^, the water rough. 
Heaven protect my Aaron ; -preserve him, restore him to his 
adoring mistress. A tedious hour elapsed, when our son 
was the joyful messenger of thy safe landing at Paulus Hook. 


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f: X 

S48 imiQimt of Aiftoir bouu [Aged 38. 

Stiff ifith cold, how muflt his papa hsrefiued? Yet, grate* 
fill for his safety, I blessed my God. I envied the ground 
which bore my pilgrim. I pursued each footstep. Lore 
engrossed his mind ; his last adieu to Bartow was the most 
persuasive token — ^^Wait till I reach the opposite shcnre, 
that you may bear the ^ad tidings to your trembling 
mother." O, Aaron, how I thank thee ! Love in all its 
delirium hovers about me; like opium, it lulls me to soft 
repose ! Sweet serenity speaks, 'tis my Aaron's spirit pre- 
sides. Surrounding objects check my visionary charm. I 
fly to my room and give the day to thee. 


to mrs. burr. 

Albttij, October 29Ui, 1784. 

Mr. Watts this instant acquaints me that he is just set- 
ting off for New-York. I run from court to waft you a 
memorandum of affection. I have been remarkably well ; 
was fortunate in my journey. The trial of Livingston and 
HdSnan is now arguing. It began on Thursday of last 
week, and will not conclude till to-night. No other business 
has been or will be done this term. All this cursed long 
absence for nodiing. 

I cannot leave this till Sunday or Monday. Then to 
Westchester Court. The return to joy and Theo. cannot 
be till, Thursday or Friday, and that depending on ndy busi- 
ness in Westchester. Miss Yates is on her passage to 
New-York to spend eight or ten days. ^ 

I read your memorandum ten times a day, and observed 
it as religiously as ever monk did his devotion. Yesterday 
I burnt it. To me it seemed like sacrilege. 

I fear I did not caution you enough against sleeping in 
the new house. For Heaven's sake (or rather for my sakeX 
don't think of it till I come and judge. I left you an im- 
mensity of trouble, which I fear has not pr(»noted your 
health. Kiss our dear little flock for me. Adieu. 

A. Burr. 


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Aged 28.] MBMoifts or iaroit bitu. 840 

Late in the autumn of 1783 Colonel Burr removed from 
Albany into the city of New-York. In the spring of 1784 
he was elected a member of the state legislature. At that 
early period poUtical parties had not assumed either form or 
shape. The simple and intelligible terms of whig and tory 
were uniyersally used. Colonel Burr's mind was occupied 
with his professional business. The legislature met in the 
city of New-York. He attended two sessions as a member. 
The first commenced on the 12th of October, 1784. He 
was in the house only a small portion of the time, and neiFer 
interfered in what might be considered the ordinary business 
of the day. On great questions he took an active and de^ 
cided part. His character for sagacity, discrimination, and 
firmness, was well established; and he would, therefore^ 
have possessed great influence, if such had been his object ; 
but hift ambition, at this time, was not pditical ; or, if it was, 
he had determined to smother it '* until a more convenient 

The second session wUle he was a nlember commenced 
on the 27th of January, 1785. During this he was m(M 
attentive than at the preceding session, but governed by the 
same system of poHcy, acting only when grqat and impor-i 
tant questions were under consideration. On the 14th of 
February a joint committee of the two houses was appoint* 
ed to revise the laws of the state. Colonel Burr was chair^ 
man of the committee on the part of the house. He intro-* 
duced, on leave granted him, several important bills. One 
m relation to the public lands, another relative to the titles 
to real estate, Ac. On the 25th of February a bill waff 
pending fot the gradual abolition of slavery within the State 
of New-York, It {provided that all bom after its passage; 
shovid be born free. Burr moved to amend, and proposed 
to insert a provision, that slavery should be^ entirely abolish« 
ed after a day specified. His amendment being lost, he 
voted for the bill as reported. He was a member of tbo 

Vol, 1.-^1 i n* 


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250 MBH0IR8 OF AIRON BVRR. [Aged 28. 

legislature, and aupported the law in 1799, by which, ulti- 
mately, slavery within the state was abolished. 

The question upon which he took the most prominent 
part related to an application of some tradesmen and me- 
chanics in the city of New-York for an act of incorporation!. 
The advocates of this bill had united their interest with 
certain land speculators, and by these means it was suppo- 
sed both bills might be carried through the legislature. 
Both, however, failed. Colonel Burr was the only member 
from the city of New-York that opposed what was termed 
the Mechanics' Bill. His opposition produced so much feel- 
ing and excitement, that a man of less firmness would have 
been driven from his course. Riots were threatened, and 
by many it was supposed his house would be assaulted. 
His friends volunteered their services to protect him, but he 
decUned receiving their aid, averring that he had no fears of 
any violation of the laws by men who had made such sac- 
rifices as the whigH had made for the right of self-govern- 
ment, and that he could and would protect himself, if^ con- 
trary to his expectations, it should become necessary. That 
he was prepared to resist any attack was universally knovm,. 
but none was attempted, and perhaps for that reason. 

The Mechanics' Bill passed the legislature late in Febru- 
ary, and was sent to the Council of Revision. At that time 
the chancellor and the judges of the Supreme Court formed 
a Council of Revision, and bad a qualified negative on all 
biUs. If they considered a bOl unconstitutional, they re- 
turned it to the house in which it originated, with their ob- 
jections ; after which, if it received the vote of two thirds 
of both houses, it became a law. This bill was returned on 
the dth of March by the council, with their objections, and, 
two thirds not voting in favour, it was lost. These objec- 
tions, in substance, were precisely what had been urged 
against it by Colonel Burr on the floor of the assembly. 

The petitioners were fprty-three in number. The bill 
gave them unlimited powers in some particulars. It did not 


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Aged 28.] MXMoiRS w aaron bver. 251 

incorporate their successors, only so far as they pleased to 
admit them. They might hold landed estate in perpetuity 
to an unlimited amount, provided their income did exceed 
fifteen hundred pounds beyond their outgoings. Their by- 
laws were to be approved by the city corporation ; thus, by 
rendering the one dependant on the other, either the me- 
chanics would influence the magistrates, ^d the powers of 
the corporation of the city and county of New-York be 
made, at some future day, instruments of monopoly and op- 
pression ; or, which was more probable, the corporation of 
the city and county of New- York obtain a controlling power 
over the mechanics, and thus add to the extensive influence 
which that corporation already enjoyed, thereby rendering it 
dangerous to the political freedom of the people. Such 
were some of the objections entertained and urged by Colo- 
nel Burr against this bill. The great body of the commu- 
nity were prepared to sustain him ; and, before the succeed- 
ing session of the legislature, the intelligent among the me- 
chanics were so well satisfied with the correctness of hig 
views, that a similar application was never afterward made. 
From the year 1785 until the year 1788, Colonel Burr 
was unknown as a politician. His practice i^^as extensive 
and lucrative. • His domestic relations seemed to occupy all 
his leisure time. His family was large, and to direct the 
education of his children was to him the most delightful 
employment. His zeal for their improvement is evinced in 
some of the preceding letters. His own health was preca- 
rious, while that of Mrs. Burr caused him constant alarm 
and apprehension. He hdd but one child, a daughter; but 
the children of his wife by her first husband (Colonel Pre- 
vost) he reared as his own, and with all the tenderness of 
an afiectionate father. The subjoined letters present Mrs* 
Burr in a most estimable point of view, while they cast 
some light upon Colonel Burr's character as a parent and a 
husband. They cannot be read, it is believed, by even the 


ized by Google 


giddy and the thouj^tless without feeling an interest in the 
deitiny of their writers. 

In the office of Colonel Burr, as students, were his two 
stepsons, Frederick and John Bartow. When absent from 
home on professional or other business, one of them fre- 
quently accompanied him as an amanuensis. On these oc- 
casions all his instructions in relation to lawsuits in which 
he was employed as counsel, or papers connected therewith, 
were conununicated to the attorney or clerk in the office 
through Mrs. Burr. She appeared to be held responsible 
for the punctual and prompt performance of any duty re« 
quired of them. To him she was indeed a helpmate ; for 
she not only had charge of his domestic concerns, but was 
counselled with, and intimately associated in, all his business 


Princeton, April, 1785; 

I had just embarked in the stage at Paulus Hook when 
I learned that it went no further than Newark ; so that, after 
being three hours close packed with rabble, I trudged an hour 
more to find ii conveyance to Elizabethtown, where I arrived 
at eight o'clock^ chilled, fatigued, and with a surly head- 
ache. A comfor^ble bed and tea made amends. 

We arrived here ^t six o'clock this evening. I am for- 
tunate in company, ai4 find the travelling much less fa- 
tiguing than I imagined. Remind Frederick of the busi- 
ness with Piatt. Write me Vy the next post, and by every 
stage. If I diould even have le^ Philadelphia, I shall meet 
the letters. Speak of Harriet, and siur tout des trois 
Theo's. Adieu. 

A. Burr. 


Philadelphia, April, Satoidaj, 17S6. 
I did not write you on Friday, as promised in my letter 
from Princeton, for which I will apologize when we meet. 


ized by Google 

Aged 29.] ■iHoiRB of aarom bvik. 258 

I airiyed here in good plight on Friday eremiig. Angus* 
tine came down about noon on Saturday. We hare made 
some satidfactory progress in our business. Seeing the 
great men of other countries puts me in more conceit of 
those of my own. 

I shall be released on Tuesday evening, which will per- 
mit me to see thee on Thursday morning. Mr. Colt will 
inform you about every thing. Unfortunately, a gentleman 
with whom part of our business is has left town. If he 
should return to-morrow morning, I shall be the happiest 
of swains on Wednesday morning. I am very minute in 
these calculations, because I make them very often. Does 
Theodosia employ herself ever in the same way ? 

I have been to twenty places to find s(»nething to please 
you, but can see nothing that answers my wishes; you 
will therefore, I fear, only receive 

Your aflfectionate 

A. Burr. 


tUyt-YoA, Apra, Saturday, 1786. 

I persuade myself this is the last day you spend in Phil- 
adelphia. That to-morrow's stage will bring you to Eliz- 
abethtown ; that Tuesday morning you will breakfast with 
those who pass the tedious hours regretting your absence, 
and counting time till you return. Even little Theo. gives 
up her place on mamma's lap to tell dear papa — "comq 
home." Tell Augustine he does not know how much he 
owes me. 'Tis a sacrifice I would not make to any human 
being but himself nor even to him again. It is the last 
time of my life I submit to your absence, except from ne- 
cessity to the calls of your profession. All is well at home. 
Ireson gone on his intended journey. Morris very little 
here. The boys very attentive and industrious; mudi 
more so for being alone. Not a loud word* spoken by the 


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354 HIM01R8 OF iiRON BURE. [Aged 29. 

servants. Ail, in silent expectation, await the return of 
their much-loved lord ; but all faintly when compared to thy 



Since writing to you last evening, every thing has con- 
spired to harass and delay me. I was really in hopes of 
surprising you on Wednesday morning ; but am now most 
unfortunately and cruelly detained here till to-morrow even- 
ing; shall therefore, with the usual luck of stages, em- 
brace you on Thursday morning. 

I have been walking, in the course of this day, hunting 
offices, records, &c., &c., above eight hours, and am not 
fatigued. I must really be very robust. Thine, 

A. Burr. 


Albany, April, 1785. 

"I arrived here on Tuesday evening very late, though lit- 
tle fatigued. Wednesday afternoon I went with Sill to 
Bethlehem (Nichols), drank tea, supped, and breakfasted. 
I am pleased with our friend's choice, of which more next 
f Tuesday evening. I am vexed you were not of my party 
here — that we did not charter a sloop. I have planned a 
circuit with you to Long Island, with a number of pleasant 
&C.S, which are also reserved to a happier moment. 

I shall succeed in all Mrs. Clarke's business except that 
of the lands, in which I hope little. 

I feel impatient, and almost angry, that I have received 
no letter from you, though I really do not know of any op- 
portunity by which you could have written ; but it seems 
an endless while to wait till Saturday night before I can 
hear from you. How convenient would a little of the 
phlegm of this region be upon such occasions as^hese ! I 
fear very much for our dear petite. I tell every one who 
asks me that both she and you are well, because I abhor 


ized by Google 

Aged ^9.] MSMOiKS of iaron. bure. 255 

the cold, uninterested inquiries, which I know would be 
made if I should answer otherwise. Do you want the pity 
of such ? Those you thought your very good friends here 
have forgotten you. 

Mademoiselle Y. is very civil. Are the Wadsworths 
with you? Have you not been tormented with Some em- 
barrassments which I wickedly left you to struggle with ? 
I hope you don't beheve the epithet. But why these ques- 
tions, to which I can receive no answer but in person ? I 
nevertheless fondly persuade myself that I shall receive 
answers to them all, and many more about yourself, which I 
have in mind, notwithstanding you will not have seen this. 
There is such a sympathy in our ideas and feelings, that 
you can't but know what will most interest me. 

Give Johnstone the enclosed memorandum ; or, if he has 
gone home, to Bartow ; the business is of importance, and 
admits of no delay. 

Affectionately adieu, 

A. Burr. 


Chester, Friday, Maj, 1785. 

I arrived here about eleven o'clock this forenoon, with 
little fatigue, my horse being an excellent one. Appear- 
ances are hostile ; they talk of twenty or twenty-five days 
at least. I believe I shall not hold out so long. The com- 
missioners are met, but not all the parties, so that the busi- 
ness is not yet begun. The gentlemen from Albany are 
not yet arrived or heard of. We shall probably do nothing 
till they come. I have comfortable clean quarters. 

Tell one of the boys to send me some supreme court 
seals ; about six. I forgot them. Write me what calls 
are made at the office for me. Distribute my love. Let 
each of the children write me what they do. You may 
certainly find some opportunity. Adieu. 

A. Burr. 


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[Aged 881 


n 1^ 



Ckettor, May, 1785. 

I Strayed this morning for an hour or two in the woods, 
where I lay cm a rock to enjoy the wild retreat. The 
cheerfulness of all around me led me to ask why all ani- 
mated nature enjoyed its being but man ? Why man alone 
is discontented, anxious — sacrificing the present to idle ex- 
pectations; — expectations which, if answered, are in like 
manner sacrificed. Never enjoying, always hoping ? An- 
swer, tu mihi magna Apollo. . I would HK>ralize, but time 
— and my companions are coming in. Let me hear of 
your health. Avoid, all fatigue. Judge Yates proposes to 
come down with me. Quoi faire ? 

My good landlady is out of tea, and begs noe to send for 
a pound. Put it up very well. I am in better health than 
spirits. Adieu. 

A. Burr. 



New-York, May, 1785. 

I am vexed that I did not inquire your route more par- 
ticularly. I cannot trace you in imagination, nor find your 
spirit when at rest ; nor dare I count the hours to your re* 
turn. They are still too numerous, and add to my impa- 
tience. I expect my reward in the health you acquire. If 
it should prove otherwise, how I shall hate my acquies* 
cence to your departure. I anticipate good or evil as my 
spirits rise or fall ; but I know no medium ; my mind can- 
not reach that stage of indifference. I fancy all my actions 
directed by you ; this tends to spur my industry, and give 
calm to my leisure. 

The family as you left it. Bartow never quits the office, 
and is perfectly obliging. Your dear Uttle daughter seeks 
you twenty times a day ; calls you to your meals, and will 
not suffer your chair to be filled by any of the family. 


ized by Google 

Aged 29.] MBHoiRB or aaron BinnK. 2S7 

Judge Hobart called here yesterday ; says you are absent 
for a month. I do not admit that among possibilities, and 
therefore am not alarmed. I feel obliged to Mr. Wickham 
for his delay, though I dare not give scope to my pen ; my 
heart dictates too freely. O, my Aaron ! how many ten- 
der, grateful things rush to my mind in this moment ; how 
much fortitude do I summon to suppress them ! You will 
do justice toutheir silence ; to the inexpressible affection of 
your pltis tendre amie. 

Bartow has been to the surveyor-generied ; he cannot in- 
form him the boundaries of those lots for J. W. There is 
no map of them but one in Albany. 


to mrs. b1trr. 

Cbaster, May, 178&. 

I joined the ccxnmissioners and parties in the woods, near 
diis place, on Wednesday noon ; found the weather severe,^ 
and roads bad. Have, since my arrival, been following the 
commissicmers in their surveys. Nothing transpires from 
which we can conjecture their intentions. 

This morning came your kind, your affectionate, your 
truly welcome letter of Monday evening. Where did it 
loiter so long ? Nothing in my absence is so flattering to 
me as your health and cheerfulness. I then contemplate 
nothing so eagerly as my return ; amuse myself with ideas 
of my own happiness, &nd dwell on the sweet domestic joys 
which I fancy pr^ared for me. 

Nothing is so unfriendly to every species of enjoyment as 
melancholy. Gloom, however dressed, however caused, is 
incompatible with friendship. They cannot have place in 
the mind at the same time. It is the secret, the malignant ^ 
foe of sentim^it and love. Adieu. 

A. Burr. 

Vol.1.— Kk 


ized by Google 

258 MSMoiKfl OF AARON BVRB. [Aged 29* 


New-Yoik, Mty, 1785. 

Your dear letter was handed me this day, at a mom^it 
which, if possible, increased its value. I have a little fever 
hanging about me, which tends to depress my spirits for the 
time. Your moralizing changed my dulness to a pleasing 
melancholy. I am mortified at the interruption it met, and 
impatient to renew the theme ; to renew it in a more pleas • 
ing manner than even your letters afford. When my health 
is ill, I find your absence insupportable ; every evil haunts 
me. It is the last that must take place till term ; that I must 
submit to. I am pleased with your account of your health 
and spirits ; they are both as I wish.* 

When you write again, speak of your return. The un- 
certainty makes it more irksome. The company you speak 
of will be as welcome as any at this juncture ; but my health 
and mind seem to require the calm recreation of friendly 

\ sympathy ; the heart that has long been united to mine by 

; Uie tenderest esteem and confidence, who has made every 

little anxiety its own, to whom I can speak without reserve 

every imaginary wo, and whose kind consolati(m shall ap- 

, pease those miseries nature .has imposed. But whatever 
present inconveniences may arise, I submit to them with 
perfect resignation, rather than, even in idea, to expect the. 
one mentioned by you when last at home. My mind is im- 
presse4 with a perfect dread of all of that kind. We never 
can have one to give us so little trouble as E. W., and yet 
we found it 'great. We must avoid all such invitations, for 
the sacrifice on my part is too great. 

Friday momin;. 

I have passed a most tedious night. I went to bed much 

indisposed. M. absent ; mamma also. Ten thousand anx« 

ieties surrounded me till three, when I fell asleep ; waked at 

six, much refreshed, and in better health than I could possi* 


ized by Google 

Aged 29.] MXMOiR« op aarom burr. 2G9 

bly have expected. I flatter myself your task will end 
sooner than you expected. Mr. Marvin calls for my letter 
this morning, which will be delivered with a pound of green 
tea I ha;ve purchased for your landlady at two dollars. He 
has called. I am hurried. Ten thousand loves 

Taujofurs la vdtre. 


to mrs. burr. 

Jane's m the Mountains, May, 1785. 

I wrote my dear Theodosia a long letter of business and 
nonsense last evening from Chester. I am now about 
twelve miles nearer to you, and shall sleep to-night within 
thirty-five miles (only six hours' ride), and shall to-morrow 
return surlily to Chester. 

Our cavalcade is most fortunately composed. Some who 
abhor fatigue, others who admire good fare, by which com- 
bination we ride slow and Uve well. We have halted here 
half an hour to lounge and take a luncheon. Of the last, I 
partook reasonably. The time which others devote to the 
former, I devote (of right) to you, and thus lounge with pe- 
culiar glee. 

By return of Mr. Smith (who is obUging enough to deliver 
this), I expect much longer letters from our lazy flock. By 
the next opportunity I determine not to write you, but some 
others who deserve more attention than I fear they will think 
I mean to give them. ' 

The girls must give me a history of their time, from rising 
to night. The boys any thing which interests them, and 
which, of course, will interest me. Are there any, or very 
pressing calls at the office ? The word is given to mount. I 
shall have time to seal this and overtake them. Kiss for 
me those who love me. 

A. Burr. 


ized by Google 

860 MiMOifts OP AiRON Bujuu [Aged 29* 


New-York, April, 1785. 

Mrs. Wickham just called to tell me of an opportunity to 
Chester. How joyfully I embrace it. I had a most in- 
supportable impatience to communicate to you my gratitude 
and thanks for your last visit. It was a cordial to my 
health and spirits ; a balm to my soul. My mind is flushed 
with pleasing hopes. Ten thousand tender thoughts rush 
to my pen ; but the bearer may prove faithless. I will sup- 
press them to a happier moment, and anticipate the dear in- 

The family as you left it. Thy Theodosia's health and 
spirits increase daily. Bartow^s industry and utility are stri- 
king to the family and strangers. Johnstone returned yes- 
terday. Your letter was as eagerly read as though I had 
not seen you. Write when you have leisure ; if it does not 
reach me immediately, it will serve to divert some tedious 
moment in a future absence ; even when you ar^ at home, 
engrossed by business, I frequently find a singular pleasure 
in perusing those testimonies of affection. 

I find I am continually speaking of myself. I can only 
account for it from my Aaron having persuaded me 'tis his 
favourite subject, and thb extreme desire I have to please 
him induces me to pursue it. I take no walks but up one 
stairs and down the other. The situation of my house wiO, 
not admit of my seeing many visiters. I hope some ar- 
rangement will be accomplished by the next week. 

A packet from Sill. He vmtes like a happy man — not 
the happy man of a day, or I am much deceived in him. 
She is certainly to be ranked among the fortunate. I wish 
she may be sensible of her lot 

I have fixed the time of seeing you. Till Saturday I 
will hope the best. I cannot extend my calculatioDs beyond 
it ; four days of your absence is an age to come* My com^* 


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Aged 29.] MEMOIRS or aarov bvrii. 261 

pliments to your chum, and who else you please. Pense 
avec tendresse de la vStre. 



Ckefter, May 12, 1785. ' 

Nothing could be more welcome than your aflfectionatc 
letters by Mr. Wickham. They met me on Tuesday even- 
ing, on our return from a tour through the mountains. I 
was for some hours transported home, to partake of that do* 
mestic tranquillity which you so feelingly paint. Ck>ntinue 
to write if opportunity presents. They will cheejr me in 
these rustic regions. If not, they will not be lost. 

This being a rainy day, we hare kept within doors. To- 
morrow, if fair, we resume the business of climbing moun- 
tains, which will probably be our employment till about the 
middle of next week. After which a week more (at most) 
will finish the controversy. 

Pay Moore nothing UU I return, unless you see cause. 
Let him rough-cast, if he is confident of succeeding ; but tell 
him I will not pay him till I am convinced it will bear 
weather, and last. 

If the sherifi" of Bergen (Dcy) calls for his money, I 
enclose a note with a blank for the name. You must speak 
to either Malcom or Lente for their assistance, unless you 
can think of something more convenient, putting the matter 
in such light as your address shall think proper. If for any 
reasons you should prefer to make use of Popham's name^ 
do it. The person whose name is put in the note must en- 
dorse it, and the note be dated. Let one of the boys go 
over to Mrs. Baldwin for the certificate of the balance of 
the account, which, if obtained, a deduction must be made 
accordingly. Perhaps, by paying three or four hundred 
pounds, Mr. Morris will consent to wait my return. Per- 
haps, at your instance, he wiU wait that time vnthout^any 
payment. All which is humbly submitted. I enclos^jj^o 
notes, that you may take your choice. 


ized by Google 

262 MEMOIRS or airon burr. [Aged 29. 

Mr. Watrous's business respecting the land is not very 
material. If it should have failed, you may inform him that 
I have long since filed a caveat which will cover his claim. 
I bear the fatigues of our business to admiration. Have 
great appetite, and sleep soimd about ten hours a night. I 
am already as black as a Shawanese. You will scarce 
know me if I continue this business a few days longer. 
Thank our dear children for their kind letters. But they 
are so afraid of tiring either me or themselves (I suspect 
the latter), that they tell me few, very few^ of those inter- 
esting trifles which I want to know. 

Let T. give them* any new steps he pleases, but not one 
before the others. If any one is behind or less apt, more 
pains must be taken to keep them on a par. This I give 
in charge to you. 

I fear you flatter me with respect to your health. You 
seem a Uttle studied on that score, which is not very natural 
to you when speaking truth. But, if it is not true, it is sure- 
ly your own fault. Go to bed early, and do not fatigue your- 
self with running about house. And upon no account any 
long walks, of which you are so fond, and for which you 
are so unfit. Simple diet will suit you best. Restrain all 
gout for intemperance till some future time not very distant. 
I do not nor can promise niyself all you promise me with 
respect to the children. I have been too much mortified 
on that subject to remove it at once. 

This is the last expedition of the kind I shall ever under- 
take ; and ever since I have been here I have been plan- 
ning ways to extricate myself from it, but am defeated, and 
shall be absolutely detained prisoner till the business is con- 
cluded. Johnstone can give you an account of my quar- . 
ters and mode of life. You haimt me daily more and more. 
I really fear I shall do little justice to the business which 
brought me here. 

The childiten must pardon my not vmting. I have a 
]ii4iber of memorandums of business to make out for 


ized by Google 

Aged 29.] MEMOIRS of aaron burr. 268 

Johnstone. Thank them again for their letters, and beg 
them not to be so churUsh. 

Let one of the boys haimt Moore. But you surely can 
do it without letting him vex you, even supposing he does 
nothing. I had much rather that should be the case than 
that you should be one minute out of humour with him. 

The girls must go on with Tetard in his own way till I 
come, when I will set all right. 

It is already late. I must be up at sunrise. Bon soir, 
ma chore amie. 

A. BtJRR. 


Chester, 19th May» 2 o'clock P. M., 1785. 

We have this day begun the examination of witnesses, 
which, together with the arguments, will keep us the greater 
part, and probably the whole, of next week. I find myself 
gaining strength exceedingly since my return from New- 
York, though perfectly out of humour with the business, the 
distance, and the delay. 

My trip to New-York has quite ruined me for business. ^ ^s 
I cannot confine my mind to it. I am literally homesick, '*^ 
and think of nothing else. A witness attending in court in- .* / ^^^ 
f(»rms me of his going to New- York as soon as his testi- *^ ^^-^^l 
mony is finished. I desert a moment to tell you that I am ' 
wholly yours. 

ao*clock P. M., 19th May. 

Since I wrote you at two o'clock our court is adjourned 
till nine to-morrow. We go on briskly and in great good- 
nature. If you were half as punctual or as fortunate (which 
shall I call it ?), I should absolutely fancy myself talking 
with you. It would be some indemnification for the dis- 
tance and vexation. Make up in thinking of me, and taking 
care of yourself, what you omit in writing. Thine at all 


ized by Google 

264 MIM0IR8 OF AARON BVRR. [Aged 29 

9 o'clock at nigfat, 19th Utj, 

A thousand thanks for your dear affectionate letter of 
Tuesday evening. I was just sitting pensively and half 
complaining of your remissness, when your letter is receiv- 
ed and dispels every gloomy thought. I write this from the 
impulse of my feelings, and in obedience to your injunctions, 
having no opportunity in view. 

The letters of our dear children are a feast. Every part 
of them is pleasing and interesting. Le Jeune is not ex- 
pected to be in New- York for some weeks at least. I avoid 
the subject. I shudder at the idea of suffering any thing to 
mar the happiness I promise myself. 

There is no possibility of my return till the middle of 
next week. In one of my letters I put it to the last of next 
week, but we have this day made unexpected progress. If 
we are equally fortunate and equally good-natured, we may 
finish Wednesday night ; but this is conjecture, and perhaps 
my impatience makes me too sanguine. 

I broke off at the bottom of the other page to pay some 
attention to those who deserve much from me (our dear chil- 
dren). To hear that they are employed, that no time is ab- 
solutely wasted, is the most flattering of any thing that can 
{ be told me of them. It ensures their affection, or is the best 
evidence of it. It ensures, in its consequences, every thing 
I am ambitious of in them. Endeavour to preserve regu- 
larity of hours ; it conduces exceedingly to industry. 

I have just heard of a Mr. Brown who goes down by wa- 
ter. As I may not have another opportunity, I hazard it by 
him. He promises to leave it at old Mr. Rutherford's. 

Our business goes on very moderately this morning. Wit- 
nesses all tardy. We have adjourned for want of something 
to do. Melancholy and vexatious. It has given me a head- 
ache. We shall be holden, I fear, all next week. Adieu. 

A. Burr. 

To Mrs. Burr. 


ized by Google 

Aged 29.] MEMOIRS OF AAEOlf BURB. 96ft 

Chester, 8 o'clock, 20Ui May, 178S. . 

Worse and worse. During the whole day we have not 
been five hours at business. Our witnesses are so aged, 
and many so remote, that they will not be in till Monday, 
so that, at this rate, we shall eke out the whole of next week. 
I have at no time been so completely out of patience; just 
now particularly, being a little churlish with my headache, 
which, though not very severe, unfits me for any thing but 
writing to you. 

I wrote you and the whole flock last evening, and added 
a line to you this morning, and sent off the packet by a Mr. 
Brown, who goes by water, and promised to deliver it him- 
self. He has business at old Mr. Rutherford's. If he is 
punctual, don't forget him in thinking of the letters. Do say 
something that will make me a litde more content with this 
vexatious delay and imprisonment. 

I am prompted to write a hundred things, which I dare 
not, for fear I shall not find a safe conveyance : that was 
particularly the case last evening and this morning. It is 
perhaps fortunate, or I should spend too much time with 
you in this way. I believe I do as it is. Adieu, a littlt 
while. I am just gmng to prepare some hot punch. 

I have been till this minute making and sipping punch, 
and with great success. It has thrown me into a perspra- 
tion, which obliges me to go to bed. I am very illy recon^ 
oiled to leave you and bid you good-night, but so says my 
tourd lot 

Samnlaf moxAinctt 8 o*61ocit. ^ 
I lay awake till after three o'clock this morning; thto 
got vp and took a large dose of medicine. It was com- 
posed of laudanum, nitre, and other savoury dnigs, which 
Vol. I.— LI 12 


ized by Google 

•N MBMOIR* 01* AAROM BITRB. [Aged tl^. 

procured me sleep till now : have no headache ; must eal 
breakfast, and away to court as fast as possible. 

Saturday Ereaing, 

Erery thing almost stands still. I begin to despair of 
getting away. I am sure the whole of next week will not 
fimsh our business at the present rate. To make it more 
ImUous and disagreeable, some of us are less good-humoured 
than at first. Not a line from you since that I have men- 
tioned. I can find no opportunity for this. I am too vexed 
to utter one sentiment. 

Svndajr sad Ma^. 

No oppcHtunity for this scrawl y^ I begin to be tiicd 
ol seeing it, and wish it gone fcnr this reason ; and also, bet 
cause I try to persuade myself you would be glad to le* 

To-day we have fine scope to reflect how much better we 
might have enq>loyed it, had we be^n active in our business 
kst week. I find the whole might have been finished 1^ 
yesterday (if the witnessen on both sides had been ready) 
•ft well as a month hence. . 

My room is a kind df rendezvous for our side : have seU 
dom, therefore, time either to think or write, unless at night 
or early in the morning. Judge Yates concludes to give us 
It few days of his company, aikd to accept of a room with us. 
The coming of Le Jeune uncertain ; not probably till USL 
You will receive a pail of butter, pexhi^, with this. I hivb 
been contracting for the year. 

Have you done running up and down stairs ? How i6 
you live, sleep, and amuse yourself? I wish, if you have 
leisure (or, if you have not, make it), you would read the 
Abbe Mably's little book on the Constitution of the United 
States. St John has it in French, which is much bett^ 
dian a translation. This, you see, will save me the tPOobl# 
of reading it ; and I shall receive it with much moj^ em- 


ized by Google 

Aged 29.] MSMOIRB OF AAEOK BmUfU •S67 

phasis par la boache d'amour. Adieu. I seal this instantly, 
lest I be tempted to write more. Again adteii. 

A. BirB&. 


New.York, May 99di, 1786. 

Your letter by Mr. Bayard was brought me on Saturday, 
and the first I had received since the one by Mr. Marvin 
till to-day. Mr. Brown very punctually and civilly came with 
your welcome packet of Thursday, nine o'clock. It vras 
just before dinner; the children were dispersed at diflbrent 
employments. I furnished the mantelpiece with the coo* 
t^ts of the packet. Whai dinner was served up they were 
called. You know the usual eagerness on this occasion. 
They were all seated but Bartow, when he espied the let** 
ten; the soipme, the joy, the exclamations exceed descrip- 
tion. The greatest stoic would have foigot himself. A 
silent tear betrayed me no philosopher. A most joyous re«* 
past succee<kd. We talked ci our haippiness, of our first 
of blessings, our best of papas. I enjoyed, my Aaron, the 
only hsq[^nes8 that could accrue from your absence. It 
was a momentary compensation; the only one I ever ex- 

Your letters always affoord me a singular satisfaction ;-«» 
a senaatioQ entirely my own; this was peculiady so. It 
wrought strangely on my mind and spirits. My Aaron, it 
was replete with tenderness ! vrith the most lively affection. 
I read and re-read, till afiraid I should get it by rote, and 
mii^ie it widi common ideas ; profane the sacred pledge. 
No ; it shall not be. I will economize the boon. I vdll 
limit the recreation to those m(»nent8 of retirement devoted 
to diee. Of a sudden I found myself unusually fatigued. I 
reflected on the cause, and soon found I had mounted the 
stairs mmch oftener than I could possibly have done on aiqr 
odier occasi<m. 

I am vexed with my last letter to you ; 'tis impossible ftr 


ized by Google 

iuiifoiE0 OF AARON lURR. [Aged 29. 

me to disguise a single feeling or thought when I am wri- 
ting or conversing with the friend of my heart. I hope you 
hare attended oidy to the last paragraph, and avoided all 
unnecessary anxiety for her who wishes to be a constant 
source of pleasure to thee. I hare be^i in good health since 
Saturday morning. Since yesterday, unusually gay and 
happy; anticipating a thousand pleasures, studying every 
Uttle arrangement that can contribute to thy comfort. Thit 
wet weather is a bar to any essential progress. The walls 
are still too damp to admit of either paint or paper. I have 
a bed ready for the judge ; ne vous ginezpas U^dessus. I 
am afraid some foohsh reflections in my last virill embarrass 
you. Your affection and tenderness has put them to fli^t* 
** Let nothing mar the promised bliss." Thy Theo. waits 
vrith inexpressible impatience to welcome the return of her 
truly bdoved. Every domestic joy shall decorate his man- 
sion. When Aaron smiles, shall Theo. frown? Forbid it 
eveiy guardian power. 

Le Jeune perplexes me no longer. I am jnrovoked with 
mjrself for having repeated it to you. Your dear little 
Theo. grows the most ei^aging child you ever saw. She 
frequently talks o^ and calls on, her dear papa. It is im- 
possible to see her vnth indifference. All moves as yon 
vrish it. All count the passing hours till thy return. Re- 
member, I am in good health and spirits ; that I expect the 
same account of yours. To think of me affectionately is 
my first command ; to write me so, the second. Hasten 
to share the happiness of thy much loved and mudi lovii^ 



New.Yoik, August 28ih» 1786. 

The enclosed was to have gone yesterday, but the in- 
tended bearer disappointed me. Young — - and his com- 
panions have just left us ; at tasting your Madeira he pro- 
nounced you a d— — d clever fellow. Your merit increased 


ized by Google 

Aged 29.] MiMoiRS of aaron burr. 269 

with the number of glasses; they went away in good- 
humour with themselyes and the hostess. O ! my love, 
how earnestly I pray that our children may never be driven 
from your paternal direction. Had you been at home to« 
day, you would have felt as fervent in this prayer as your 
Theo. Our children were impressed with utter contempt \ ^ 

for their guest. This gave me real satisfaction. CZ^*^ ^ 

I really believe, my dear, few parents can boast of chil- I "l^J^ j 
dren whose minds are so prone to virtue. I see the reward ( 
of our assiduity with inexpressible delight, vrith a gratitude 
few experience. My Aaron, they have grateful hearts; 
some circumstances prove it, which I shall relate to you 
with singular pleasure at your return. I pity A. C. from 
my heart. She vdll feel the folly of an over zeal to accu- 
mulate. Bartow's assiduity and faithfulness is beyond de- 
scription. My health is not worse. I have been disap- 
pointed in a horse ; shall have Pharaoh to-morrow. Fred- 
erick is particularly attentive to my health ; indeed, none 
of them are deficient in tenderness. All truly anxious for 
papa's return ; we fix Tuesday, beyond a doubt, but hope 

I had a thousand things to write, but the idea of seeing 
you banishes every other thought. I fear much the violent 
exerticms you are obliged to make will injure your health. 
Remember how dear, how important it is to the repose, to 
the life of 


from mrs. burr. 

New-York, August 29th, 1789. 

As soon as Tuesday evening came, I sent repeated mes- 
sages to Cape's, who persevered in the answer of there 
being no letter. I slept ill ; found my health much worse 
in the morning ; rode out ; in spite of exercise, continued ill 
till your dear letter was handed me. I immediately called 
for refireshment, and imagined I had recovered my healA; 


ized by Google 


MmoiRs or AAKOM Bnm. [Aged 89. 


my sensaticms still teQ me so. Ten thousand thanks for the 
best prescription that ever physician inrentecL I ride daily ; 
breakfasted with Clem. Clarke this morning, who has 
scarce a trait of himself. He neither knows nor cares for 
an3rbody bat his son, who is three years and a half old, £ur 
hair, but not handsome ; much humoured ; is introduced as 
a pet of the first value. Aunt more in temper than was 
expected. He dines here to-morrow with the two Blakes. 
I felt no other compulse to notice them than your wish. 

Our little daughter's health has improved beyond my ex* 
pectations. Your dear Theodosia cannot hear you spoken 
of without an apparent melancholy; insomuch that her 
nurse is obliged to exert her invention to divert her, and 
myself avoid to mention you in her presence. She was 
one whole day indifferent to every thing but your name. 
Her attachment is not of a common nature; though ^s 
was my opinion, I avoided the remark, when Mr. Grant 
observed it to me as a singular instance. 

You see I have followed your example in speaking first 
of myself. I esteemed it a real trait of your affection, « 
sympathy in the feelings, the anxiety of your Theo., who 
had every fear for your health ; more than you would aUow 
ker to express. 

The garden wall is begun. I fear the front pavenient 
will not answer your intention. I write you again to-mor* 
Much love awaits thee. Thine, unchangeably, 

Theodosia Burr. 


^ New-York, 25th September, 1785. 

Your dear letter of Saturday morning has just readied 
me. I was relieved, delighted, till the recollection ci Uie 
•lorm you have since weathered took place. How have you 
borne it ? Ten thousand fears alarm me. I pursued thee 
yesterday, through wind and rain, till eve, when, fatigued^ 
Qodiaiisted, shivmng, thou didst reach thy haven, suiToundU 


ized by Google 

Aged 29.} lusnoiRs of ▲aron bqrh. 871 

ed with inattenti(Ni, thy Theo^ from thei^. Thus agitated* 
I laid my head upon a restless pillow, turning from side to 
side, when thy kindred spirit found its mate. I beheld my 
much-loved Aaron, his tender eyes fixed kindly oa m©; 
they spake a body wearied, wishing repose, but not sick. 
This soothed my troubled spirit : I slept tolerably, but dare 
not trust too confidently. I hasten to my friend to realize 
the delightful vision ; naught but thy voice can tranquillize 
my mind. Thou art the constant subject of love, hope, and 
fear. The girls bewail the su£ferings of their dear papa ; 
the boys vrish themselves in his place ; Frederick frets U 
the badness of the horse ; vnshes money could put him in 
thy stead. The unafiected warmth of his heart deli|^tf 
me. If aught can alleviate thy absence, 'tis these testimo- 
nies of gratitude and affection -from the young and guile- 
lest to the best of parents. They feel the hand that Uesr 
aea them, and love because they are blessed. 

Thy orders shall be attended to. Manmia joins in the 
warmest assurances of sincere affection. Theodosia and 
Saliy in perfect health. Beyond expression, 


Theodosu IffHU 


New-York, 27th Septemb«r, 178ft. 

I have counted the hooni till evening ; since that, the min- 
utes, and am still on the watch ; the stage not arrived : it is 
a cruel delay. Your health, ycHu: tender frame, how are 
they supported ! Anxiety obliterates every other id^a ; er» 
ery noise stops my pen ; my heart flutters vrith hope and 
fear ; the pavement firom this to Cape's* is kept warm by 
the family; every eye and ear engrossed by expectatiaii; 
my mind is in too much trepidation to write. 

I resume my pen after another messenger, in vain. I w^ 

» StagehdQM. 


ized by Google 

272 MXMoifts OF AARoir BUM. [Ageil 29. 

try to tell you that those you lore are well ; that the bojff 
are very diligent ; Ireson gone to Westdiester. My new 
medicine will, I flatter myself, prove a lucky one. Sally 
amazingly increased. Fream at work at the roof. He 
thinks it too flat to be secured. The back walls of the 
house struck through with the late rain. M. Y. still at Miss 
W. You must not expect to find dancing on Thursday night. 
I should think it a degree of presumption to make the neces- 
sary preparations without knowing the state of your health. 
Should this account prove favourable, I still think it best to 
delay it, as the stage is very irregular in its return. That of 
Saturday did not arrive till Sunday Dooming ; it brought an 
unfavourable account of the roads. Thus you probably 
would not partake, nor would I wish spectators to check 
my vigilance, or divide that attention which is ever ^nsuffi* 
t;ient when thou art the object. 0, my Aarcm, how impa* 
tient I am to welcome thy return ; to anticipate thy will, and 
receive thy loved commands. 

The clock strikes eleven. No stage. My letter must 
go. I have been three hours writing, or attempting to write, 
this imperfect scrawl. The children desire me to speak 
their affection. Mamma will not be forgot ; she especially 
shares my anxiousness. Adieu. 

Thsodosia Burr. 

to mrs. burr. 

Albtay, October 30th» 1785. 

I have received your two affectionate letters. The en- 
closed was intended to have been sent by the stage which I 
met on my way up ; but, by untoward accidents (needless to 
detail), yet Ues by me. My disorder has left me almost 
since I left the city. 

The person with whom I had business had gone from this 
place before my arrival, so that I should have been, ere this, 
on my return, but that I have suffipred myself to be en- 
gaged in two land causes (Van Hoesen and Van Rensse 


ized by Google 

Aged 39.] MEMOIRS or aaron bitrr. 273 

laer), which begin to«morrow, and will probably lact the 
whole week. I am retained for Van Hoesen, together with 
J. Bay and P. W. Yates. Such able coadjutors will re- 
lieve me of the principal burden. You may judge with 
what reluctance I engaged in a business which will detain 
me so long frcmi all that is dear and lovely. I dare not 
think on the period I have yet to be absent. I feel it in 
9Gme sort a judgment for the letters written by the girls to 

Your account of your health is very suspicious ; yoa are 
not particular enough ; you say nothing of the means y w 
use to restore yourself; whether you take exercise, or how 
you employ your time. 

I shall probably leave this on Sunday next; my hcnrse 
will not take me home in three days. I fear I shall Hot 
tee you till Wednesday morning of next week ; perhaps 
not even then, for I am engaged to attend the court at Bed- 
ford on Tuesday of next week. You shall hear again by 
the stage. 

Will not these continued rains deprive us of the pleasure 
of the promised visit of the W.s ? How is it possible you 
can write me such short letters, having so much lebure, 
and surrounded with all that can interest me ? Adieu. 

A. BmiR. 


Albanr, 2d NovMidbei, 1785. 

I have lived these three days upon the letters I expected 
this evening, and behold the stage without a line I I have 
been through the rain, and dark, and mud, hunting up every 
passenger to catechise them for letters, and can scarce yet 
believe that I am so totally forgotten. 

Our trial, of which I wrote you on Sunday, goes on mod- 
erately. It will certainly last tiQ twelve o^dock on Satur* 
day night ; Icmger it cannot, that being the last hour of 
court. Of course, I leave this on Sunday ; shall be detained! 

Vol. I.— Mm 12* 


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at Westchester till about Thursday noon, and be home on 
Friday. This is my present prospect; a gloomy one, I 
confess ; rendered more so by your unpardonable silence. I 
have a thousand questions to ask, but why ask of the dumb ? 

I am quite lecoyered. The trial in which I am engaged 
is a &tiguing one, and in some respects vexatious. But it 
pfuts me in better hiunour to reflect that you have just re-^ 
ceived my letter of Sunday, and are saying or thinking 
some good-natured things of me. Determining to write any 
dung that can amuse and interest me ; erery thing that can 
atone for the late silence, or compensate for the hard Ux^ 
diat divides ns. 

Since being here I have^ resolved that you in fotuie w> 
company me cm such excursicms, and I am provoked to have 
]rielded to your idle fears on this occasion. I have told 
here frequently, within a day or two, that I was never m 
long from home before, till, upon counting days, I find! 
have been frequently longer. I am so constantly aaticipa* 
tmg the duration of this absence, that when I speak of it I 
soaUze the whole of it. 

. Let me find diat you have done justice to yourself aiid 
me. I shall forgive none the smallest omission on this 
head* Do not write by the Monday stage, or rather, do 
not send the letter you write, as it is possible I shall leave 
the stage-road in my way to Bedford. 

Affectionately adieu, 

A. Burr. 


ized by Google 

Aged 30,] 






fe'ROM Mas. SURE 

New*Yoik, August, 1780. 

Your letter was faithfully handed us by the boy from 
Hall's. Bartow has enclosed the papers. Those you men- 
tioned to me oh the night of your departure I cannot for- 
ward, as I have forgot the names of the parties, and they 
cannot guess them in the office from my description. I hope 
tfie disappointment will hot be irreparable. 

If you finish your causes before court is over, cannot you 
look at us, even should you return to the manor ? The two 
girls followed you to the stagehouse, saw you seated aild 
drive off. Frederick's tooth prevented his attendance. My 
heart is full of affection, ray head too barren to express it* 
I am impatient for evening ; for the receipt of your dear let^ 
fer; for those delightful sensations which your ex|»pessions 
6f tenderness alone can excite. ^ Dejected, distracted witl^ 
out them ; elated, giddy even to folly with them ; my mindi . 
never at medium, claims every thing from your partiality. / 

I have just determined to take a room at aunt Clarke'9' 
till Sally recovers her appetite ; by the advice of l\t physl-^ 
cian, we have changed her food from vegetable to animal. A 
change of air may be equally beneficial. You shall have a 
faithful account. I leave town at six this evening. All 
good angels attend thee. The children speak their love. 
Theodosia has written to you, and is anxious lest I should 
omit sending it. Toujours la vdtre, 



1 '* 


ized by Google 

~S76 MmOI&8 OF AARON BVlft. [A|^ 30. 


Albtny, Augait, 1786. 

Your letter of Thursday evening was stuffed into one of 
the office papers, so that I did not find it for half an hour 
after I received the packet, during all which time I had the 
pleasure of abusing you stoutly. But I had only prepared 
myself for the most delightful surprise. I apologized with 
great submission. 

Why are you so cautiously silent as to our little Salljr? 
Tou do not say that she is better or worse ; from which I 
conclude she is worse. I am not wholly pleased with your 
plan of meat diet. It is recommended upon the idea that 
she has no disorder but a general debility. All the disor* 
ders of this season are apt to be atteiuled with fevers, in 
which case animal diet is unfriendly. I beg you to watph 
the effects of this Tndiim with great attention. So essentitd 
a change will certainly have visible effects. Remember, I 
do not absolutely condemn, because I do not know the prin- 
ciples, but am fearful. 

Every minute of my time is engrossed to repair the losa 
of my little book. Thank the boys for their attenti<m to the 
business I left them in charge. I wish either of them had 
given me a history of what is doing in the office, and you of 
what is doing in die family. The girls I know to be incor- 
rigibly lazy, and therefore expect nothing from them. The 
time was — ^but I have no leisure to reflect. 


A« Burr. 

Albany, August, ekren &c]£kli it m^t, 1786. 

I have this day your letter by my express. I am sorry 
that you and others perplex yourselves vrith that office non- 
sense. Am too fatigued and too busy to say more of it. 

We began our Catskill causes this morning, and have 


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Ageii 31.] MEIfOIRS OF AARON BtmR. 277 

this minute adjourned to meet at deven in the morning. We 
shall be engaged at the same disagreeable rate till Saturday 
eyening. I think our title stands favourably ; but the jury 
are such that the verdict will be in somei measure hazardous. 

I hare judgment for Maunsel against Brown, after a la- 
boured argument. Inform him, with my regards. 

Since writing thus far, I have your affectionate letter by 
the stage, which revives me. I shall not go to the manor. 
But, if I succeed in our causes^ shall be obliged to go to 
Catskill to settle with the tenants, make sales, &c. Of this 
you cannot know till Tuesday evening. 

I am wrong to say that I shall not go to the m^or. I 
am obliged to attend a Court of Chancery there. The 
chancellor had gone hence before my arrival. I cannot be 
home tHl Thursday evening. I hope your next will be 
of the tenour of the last. Your want of cheerfiilness is 
the least acceptable of any token of affection you can give 
me. Good angels guard and preserve you. 

A. Burr. 


N6w*YoriE, Noveniber, 1787. 
What language can express the joy, the gratitude of Theo- 
dosia? Stage after stage without a line. Thy usual punc- 
tuality gave room for every fear; various conjectures fiUed 
every breast. One of our sons was to have departed to- 
morrow in quest of the best of firiends and fatiiers. This 
morning we waited the stage vnth impatience. Shrouder 
went firequently before it arrived ; at length returned — no 
letter. We were struck dumb with disappointment. Bar- 
tow set out to inquire who were the passengers ; in a very 
few minutes returned exulting, — a packet worth the treas- 
ures of the universe. Joy brightened every face ; all ex- 
pressed their past anxieties ; their present happiness. To 
enjoy was the first result. Each made choice of what they 
eould best relish. Porter, sweet wine, chocdate^ and sweel- 


ized by Google 

078 Mmouu or aaron Bmui. [Aged 81. 

meats made the most delightful repast that could be shared 
without thee. The servants were made to feel their lord was 
weUy are at this instant toasting his health and bounty ; while 
the boys are obeying thy dear commands, thy Theodosia 
flies to speak her heartfelt joys : — ^her Aaron safe, mistress 
of the heart she adores ; can she ask niore ? has Heaven 
more to grant ? " Plus que jamais d vaus,^ dost thou rec- 
ollect it ? Do I read right? I can't mistake ; I read it ev« 
erywhere ; 'tis stamped on the blank paper ; I sully the im* 
pression with reluctance ; I know not what I write. You. 
talk of long absence. I stoop not to dull calculations ; thou 
hast judged it best ; thy breast breathes purest flame. What 
greater blessing can await me ? Every latent spark is kin* 
died in my squI. My imagination is crowded with ideas ; 
they leave me no time for utterance ; plus que jamais; but 
for Sally, I should set out to-morrow to meet you. I must 
dress and visit to-morrow. I have heard nothing of the W.s» 

Our two dear pledges have an instinctive knowledge of 
their mother's bliss. They have been awake all the even- 
ing. I have the youngest in my arms. Our sweet prattler 
exclaims at every noise. There's dear papa, and runs to meet 
him. I pursue the medicine I began when you left us, 
and believe it efficacious. Exercise costs me a crown a 
day ; our own horse disabled by the nail which penetrated 
the joint. I have grown less, and better pleased with my- 
self ; feel confident of your approbation. W. hastens the 
first assembly. F. feigns herself lame, that she may not 
accompany M., i^o submits to every Uttle meanness, and 
bears all hints with insensibility. Has called here once. 
Clement sailed on Monday. 

Your remark on the shortness of my letters is flattering. 
This is the last you shall complain of. My spirits and 
nerves coincide in asking repose. Your daughter com- 
mands it Our dear children join in the strongest assu- 
mmoes of homsX love. Mamma virill not be forgottem 
Sweet sleep attend thee. Thy Thep.'s spirit shall preside* 


ized by Google 

Aged 83.] MIM0IR8 of AAaoir buer. 279 

I wkh you may find this scrawl as short at re^diog as I 
hare at writing. I am surprised to find myself obliged U> 
enclose it. Adieu. 

Thsoposja Bubr« 


New-Yoik, Wednotdaj, Noronriwr, 1787. 

My health is better. As I fondly believe this the most 
interesting intelligence I can give thee, I make it my pre- 
amble. What would I not give to have b\;^t tho^e fov^r 
small words from thee ? Though I had but little hope^ I 
found myself involuntarily counting the passing hours. My 
messenger met the stage at the door. I need not relate 
his success. I fancy many ills from .the situation of your 
health when you left home, and pray ardently they may 
prove merely fanciful I have still three tedious days to 
the next stage, when a line of affection shall repay all my 
anxieties. Ireson returned to-day. The poor boys have 
really been models of industry. They write all day and 
evening, and sometimes all nighty nor allow themselves 
time to powder. 

I feel as though my guardian angel had forsaken me. I 
fear every thing but ghosts. Tell me, Aaron, why do I 
grow every day more tenacious 'of thy regard ? Is it pos- 
siUe my affection can increase ? Is it because each revolv- 
ing day proves thee more deserving ? Surelyt thy Theo. 
needed no proof of thy goodness. Heaven' preserve the 
patron of my flock; preserve the husband of my heart} 
teach me to cherish his love, and to deserve the boon. 

Thsodosia^ Burb, , 

to mrs. burr. 

Poa|^keqMie» SSth Junoy. ITSa 

This afternoon the stage will pass through this place. 
Your letters will not come to me till the monUng, so that I 
can only thank you ibr them, and the kind things they cosr 


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&60 MaMoifts OF AARON BtiRA. [Aged 82. 

tain, by anticipation. I have akeady read them in the same 
way, and therefore do thank you for them, de plein ccsur, 

I have a convenient room for my business in one house^ 
board at a different house, and bad lodgings at a third 
house. This is, indeed, not so conyenient an arrangement 
as might be wished ; but I could not procure these different 
accommodations at less than three houses in this metropo- 
lis and seat of government. 

As the boys will wish to know something of the progress 
of business here, tell them that the cause of Freer and Van 
Vleeck has been this day put off by the defendants, on pay- 
ment of costs, on an affidavit of the want of papers. In 
Noxon's cause I have a verdict for thirty-four pounds. 
The evidence clearly entitled Mr. Livingston to three or 
four hundred pounds, and so was the charge of the judge ; 
but landlords are not popular or favoiured in this county. 
I am now going to court to defend an action of trespass, 
in which I have been employed here ; and shall try Mr. 
Lansing's cause to-morrow, which will close my business 
here. With how much re^t I shall go further from 
home. Kiss our dear children. 

A* Burr. 

TO iIrs. burr. 

Povgiikaepne, 20th Jimt, 178K 
I have sat an hour at die door watching the arrival of 
the stage. At length it comes, and your dear packet is 
handed to me just in season to be aduiQwiedged by Mr. 
Johnstone. He will tell you of the further progress of my 
business and my intended movements. I go this evening 
to Rhinebeck. How wishfully I look homeward. I like 
your industry, and will certainly reward it as you shall 

My time is much engrossed. My health perfectly good. 
Tott say nodiing of yours; but yoiu: industry is a gpod 
om^. You can write to me by Monday's stage, directed 


ized by Google 

Aged 32.] MSMoiRs of aaron bvre. 261 

to be forwarded to me from Rhinebeck. I shall be then 
at Kingston. Much love to the smiling little girl. I re- 
ceived her letter, but not the pretty things. I continually 
plan my return with childish impatience, and fancy a thou- 
sand incidents which render it more interesting. Reserve 
your health and spirits, and I shall not be decenred. 


A. Burr. 


Albany, Angoit 7Ui, 1788. 

Oh Theo. ! there is the most delightful grove — ^so dark- 
ened with weeping willows^ that at noonday a susceptible 
fuicy Uke yours would mistake it for a bewitching moon- 
light evening. These sympathizing willows, too, exclude 
even die prying eye of curiosity. Here no rude noise in- 
terrupts the softest whisper. Here no harsher sound is 
heard than the wild cooings of the gentle dove, the gay 
thresher's animated warbles, and the soft murmurs of the 
passing brook. Really, Theo., it is charming. 

I should have told you that I am speaking of Fort John- 
son, where I have spent a day. From this amiable bower 
you ascend a gentle declivity, by a winding path, to a cluster 
of lofty oaks and locusts. Here nature assumes a more 
august appearance. The gentle brook, which murmured 
soft below, here bursts a cataract. Here you behold the 
stately Mohawk roll his majestic wave al(mg the lofty Apa- 
lachians. Here tfie mind assumes a nobler tone, and is 
occupied by sublimer objects. What there was tenderness, 
here swells to rapture. It is truly charming. 

The windings of this enchanting brook form a lovely 
island, variegated by the most sportive hand of nature. 
This shall be yours. We will plant it with jessamines and 
woodbine, and call it Cyprus. It seems formed forvthe resi- 
dence of the loves and the graces, and is therefore yours 
by the best of titles. It is indeed most charming. 

Vol. I.— Nn 



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><;. . .u<^^ ^j2v *u u-MJ. . ?■ r-' 


But I could fill sheets in description of the beauties of 
tkis romantic place. We will resenre it for the subject <tf 
many an aihusing hour. And besides being little in th^ 
babit of the sublime or poetical, I grow already out iA 
breath, and begin to falter/ as you perceive. I cannot, 
however, omit the most interesting and important circum* 
stance ; one which I had rather communicate to you in this 
way than face to face. I know that you was opposed to 
this journey to Fort Johnson. It is therefore with the great- 
er regret that I communicate the event ; and you are not 
unacquainted with my inducements to it. 

In many things I am indeed unhappy in possessing a 
singularity of taste ; particularly unhappy when that taste 
differs in any thing from yours. But we cannot control 
necessity, though we often persuade ourselves that certain 
things are our choice, when in truth we have been unavoidr 
ably impelled to them. In the instance I am going to relate, 
I shall not examine whether I have been governed by mere 
fancy, or by motives <rf e]q>ediency, or by caprice ; you wiU 
probably say the latter. 

My deiu: Theo., arm yourself with all your fortitude. I 
know you have much of it, and I hope that upon this occft- 
•ion you will not fail to exercise it. ^ I abhor preface veA 
preamble, and don't know why I have now used it so freely 
But I am well aware that what I am going to relate needs 
much apology /ro;9» me, and will need much to you. K I 
am the unwilling, the unfortimate instrument of depriving 
you of any part of your promised gayety or pleasure, I hope 
you are too generous to aggravate the misfortcme by up- 
braiding me with it. Be assured (I hope the assurance is 
needless), that whatever diminishes your happiness equally 
impairs mine. In short, then, for I grow tedious both to yoU 
and myself; and to procrastinate the relation of disagreeable 
events only gives them poignancy ; in short, theil, my dear 
Theo., the beauty of this same Fort Johnson, the fertility 
of the soil, the commodiousness anil elegance of the buildr 


ized by Google 

Agod 3d.] MBiioiRs or aaron bar. 9M 

ingSy the ^at value of die millsy and the yery inconsider- 
able price which was asked for the whole, have not induced 
me to purchase it, and probably never wiH : in the confi- 
dence, however, of meeting your forgiveness. 
Affectionately yours, 


TO Mas. bttrr. 

Albany, 86th October^ 17S8. 

1 wrote you a few hours ago, and put the letter into the 
postoffice. Little did I then knagine how much pleasoire 
was near at hand for me. Judge Hobart has this minute 
arrived, and handed me your letter of Monday. I cannot 
thank you sufliciently f(»r all the affection it contains. Be 
assured it has every welcome which congenial affection can 

The headache with which I left New- York grew so ex- 
treme, that finding it impossible to proceed in the stage> die 
view of a vessel off Tarrytown, under full sail befoie the 
wind, tempted me to go on board. We reached West Point 
that nighty and lay there at anchor near three days. After 
a variety of changes firom sloop to wagon, firom wagon to 
canoe, and firom canoe to slocqp again, I reached this place 
last evening. I was able, however, to land at Rhinebeck 
on Thursday evening, and there wrote you a letter which 
I suppose reached you on Saturday last. 

My business in court will detain me till Saturday of this 
week, when I propose to take passage in aloc^. I have jusi 
drunk tea with Mrs. Fairlie, and her daughter, five days oki 
Thank Bartow for the papers by Judge Hobart. Wh^n I 
wrote him this evening I had not received diem. 


A. Burr. 


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Albany, November, 1786. 

I received your affectionate letter just as I was going into 
court, and under the auspices of it have tried with success 
two causes. The bearer of this was my client in one of 
them, and is happy beyond measure at his success. Busi- 
ness has increased upon my hands since I came here. My 
return seems daily more distant, but not to be regretted 
from any views but those of the heart. 

I hope you persevere in the regular mode of life which I 
pointed out to you. I shall be seriously angry if you do not. 
I think you had best take less wine and more exercise. A 
walk twice round the garden before breakfast, and a ride in 
the afternoon, will do for the present, and this will be neces- 
sary to fit you for the journey to Long Island. 

A Captain Randolph will call with Mr. Mers^reau : c^est 
un sMat et hanrUte hamme^ dotmez eux d boire. They will 
answer all your questions. 

Yours truly, 

A. BuEE. 


Alkny, 2td N0v«itar» ITSt. 
I thank you for your obliging letter of the 19tb. It is 
not, indeed, so long as I had hoped, but your reason for be» 
ing concise is too ingenious not to be admitted. I have, 
however, a persuasion that you are at this moment emj^oy- 
ed in the same manner that I am ; and in the hope that your 
good intentions will not be checked by either want of health 
or want of spirits, I venture to expect a much longer letter 
by the coming post. 

• Your account of the progress of the measles is alarming. 
I am pleased to find that you yet keep your ground. It 
persuades me that, notwithstanding what you have written, 
you do not think the hazard very great. That disorder hath 


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Aged 32.] MEMOIRS of aakom burk. 386 

found its wi^y to this city, but with no unfsiTOurable symp- 
toms. It is not spoken of as a thing to be either feared or 

I haye no prospect of being able to leave this place be- 
fore this day week, probably not so soon. You must, by 
return of post, assure me that I shall find you in good health 
and spirits. This will enable me to despatch business and 
hasten my return. Kiss those who love me. 

A. Burr. 


Albttiy, seOi November, I7ML 

The unusual delay of the post deprives me of the pleas* 
ure ^ hearing from you this evening. This I regret the 
more, as your last makes me particularly anxious for thai 
which I expected by this post. 

I am wearied out with the most tedious cause I was ever 
migaged in. To-.m<»rrQW will be the eighth day since we 
began it, and it may probably last the whde oi this week* 
Write me whether any thing calls particularly for my re* 
turn so as to prevent my ccmcluding my business here. I 
am at a loss what to write until I have your answer to my 
letters, for which I am very impatient. 

Yours affectionately, 

A. Burr. 

From the commencement of the year 1785 until the year 
1788, Colonel Burr took but little part in the pditical dis- 
cussions of the day. In the year 1787 the opinion had be- 
come universal that the states could not be kept together 
under the existing articles of confederation. On the secoiKl 
Mimday in May, 1787, a conv^ition met in Philadelphia for 
the avowed purpose of ** revising the Articles of Canfed^ 
eraHan^^ &c. On the' 28th of September following, that 
convention, having agreed upon a ** new constitutiony^^ order- 
ed that the same be transmitted to the several legislatures 


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860 MXM0IR8 or AABOH BTOUL [Aged 88. 

for tl» purpose of being cnibmitted to a convention ci dele** 
gmles, ckosen in each state, for its adc^tion or rejection* 

In January, 1788, the legislature of New«York m^ and 
warm discussicms ensued on the subject of the new consti- 
tution* These discussions arose on the question of calling a 
stale coDvei^ion. Parties had now become cnrguiized. 'Die 
fidends of the new constituticm styled tbemselyes federxd* 
ists. Its opponents were designated antt-federalists. The 
latter deni^ the right of the general convention to form a 
" new constitution," and contended that they were limited in 
their powers to '^ revising aad. amending the Articles of Con- 
federation.'' The former asserted that the general conven- 
tion l^ad Aol transcended its powers. 

Cdond Bifirr, on ^s point, appears to have assumed a 
neutral stand ; but, in other respects, cranected himsdf with 
what was termed the anti-federal party. He wished amend* 
ments to die constitutioB, and had received^ in ccmmon with 
many others, an impression that die powers of the federal 
government, unless more distinctly defined, would be so ex* 
ercised as to divest the states of every attribute of sover- 
eignty, and tkact on their ruins ultimately there woidd be 
erected a splendid rusUonal instead of k federal government. 

In April, 1788, Colonel Burr was nominated by the anti* 
federalists of d» ci^ of New-York as a candidate for the 
assembly. The feelings of that day may be judged of by 
the manner in which the ticket was headed. It was pub- 
b^ed in the newspapers and in handbills as follows: — 

" llie 8<ms of liberty, who are ^ain called upon to con» 
tend with the sheltered aliens^ who have, by the courtesy of 
our country, been permitted to remain among us, will give 
their support to the fcdlowing ticket : — 

" William Demingy MeUmcton Smith, Murinus W&Ut^ 
and Aaron jBurr." 

The federalists prevailed by an overwhelming majority. 
The istrength of the contending parties was in the ratio of 
about seven federalists (or tories) finr one anti-^federalist (or 


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Aged 6$.] ifftifOiRs OF aaron bu&r. 967 

whig). Such were the political oognom^as o£ the day. 
The federalists styled their * opponents anti'federalistM. 
The afiti-federalists designated their opponents Uniea. 

In April, 1789, there -was an election for goyemor of the 
State of New^York. The anti*federal party nominated 
Gedrge Clinton. A meeting of citizens, principally feder- 
alists, was held in the city of New-York, and Judge Rob- 
ert Yaies was nominated in opposition to Mr. Clinton. Mr. 
Yates was a firm and decided anti-federalist. He was^ 
known to be the peisonal and political friend of Cokmel 
Bvrr. At this meeting a committee of correspcmdence was 
ai^>omted. Colonel Hamiltcm and Colonel Burr wei:e both 
numbers of this commitnee. 

In their address recomntending Jiidge Yates they state, 
that Chief-justice Morris or lieutenant-governor Van Court> 
landt were ibe fayourite candidates of the federal party; 
4rat, for the sake of harmomrang conflicting interests, &geii* 
tleman (Mr. Yates), known as an anti-federaUst, had been se* 
kcted, and they rei^ctfully reeooimend to Mr. Ab)rris and 
Mir. Van Courtlandt to withdraw their names, and to unite 
in d^ support of Mt. Yales. This address was signed hf 
Alexander HamUton as chainnan. Mr. Clinton, however, 
was re-elected. 

This support of Judge Yates did not diminish Goyemor 
Clinton's confidence in the political integrity, or lessen his 
respect for the talents, of Colcmel Burr. A few mimdM 
after the election the governor tendered to him the office of 
attorney-general of the state. At first he hesitated about 
accepting the appointment; but, on the 2dth of September^ 
1789, addressed his excdlency as follows :— - 

to governor oborgb glintok» 

In case the office you were jdeased to propose shotdd be 
offered to me, I have, upon reflection, determined to accept 
it ; at least un^ it shall be known i;qpon what establishr 


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888 MBMoiRS OF AAROM BVER. [Aged 33. 

ment it will be placed. My hesitation arose not from any 
dislike to the office, but from the circumstances which I took 
the liberty to suggest in our conversation on this subject. 
I haye the honour to be 

Your excellency's obedient sonrant, , 

A. Burr. 

On the receipt of the above note. Governor Clintim nom- 
inated Colonel Burr to the council of appointment as attor- 
ney-general of the state, and the nominatioii was confinned. 
This office was rather professional than political. It was, 
however, at the time, highly important, and imposed the most 
arduous duties upon the incumbent. Under the new ccmMi- 
tution of the United States, after the oiganiEation of the gov- 
ernment, many intricate questions arose. To discriminate 
between the claims upon the respective states and those 
upon the federal government, often required close investigtr 
tion and no inconsiderable degree of legal astuteness. The 
claims of in^viduals who had been in the service of the 
state during the war of the revolution, or who had otherwise 
beccHSie creditors, were now presented for adjustment. 
There were no princ^les settled by which their justice or 
legality could be tested. All was chaos ; and the legislature 
was about to be overwhelmed with petitions from every 
quarter for debts due, c^ for injuries alleged to have been 
mistained by individuals who had been compelled to receive 
depreciated money, or whose private property had been 
taken for public use. In this dilemma the legislature passed 
an act authorizing the appointment of commissioners to re- 
port on the subject. The commissioners were Gerard 
Bancker, treasurer, Peter T. Curtenius, state auditor, and 
Aaron Burr, attorney-general. 

During the period that Colonel Burr was attorney-gen- 
eral, the seat of government was in the city of New-York. 
His official duties, therefore, seldom required his absence 
fr(nn home, when his private business, as a jNTofessional 


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Aged 33.] xBMoiRs of aaron burr. 289 

man, would not have rendered that absence necessary. His 
correspondence, although more limited, lost none of its in- 
terest, and miscellaneous jselections from it are therefore coi^n 


Albany, 21tt October, 1789. 

My dsarest Theodosia, 

I have this moment received your letter of Sunday even- 
ing, containing the account of your alarming accident and 
most fortunate rescue and escape. I thank Heaven for youlr 
preservation, and thank you a thousand times for your par- 
ticular and interesting account of it. 

I left my sloop at Kinderhook on Monday morning, and 
came here that day in a wagon. I wrote you on the pas* 
sage, and attempted to leave the letter at Poughkeepsie, but 
the wind not permitting us to stop, I went on board a Rhine- 
beck sloop, and there found Mrs. Peter R. Livingston, who 
offered to^take charge of my letter. 

I am relieved from much anxiety by your management of 
certain arrangements ; I am glad M. W. is content. Mrs. 
Witbeck met with an accident a litde similar to yours; 
but she lost only her cap and hair. 

I am delighted to find that you anticipate as a pleasure 
that by this post you may write as much as you please. If 
you set no other bound to your pen than my gratification^ 
you vrill write ine the history every day, not of your actions 
only (the least of which will be interesting), but of your 
thoughts. I shall watch with eagerness and impatience the 
coming of every stage. Let me not be disappointed ; you 
have raised and given confidence to these hopes. We 
lodge at a neat, quiet widow's, near the Recorder Ganse- 
voort's. Sill invited us very friendly. 


A. Burr. 

Vol. I.— 13 


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TO MRS. BiniR. 

Albany, 24Ui October, 1780. 

With what pleasure have I feasted for three days past 
upon the letters I was to receive this evening. I was en- 
gaged in court when the stage passed. Upon the sound of 
it I left court and ran to the postoffice ; judge of my mor- 
tification to find not a line from your hand. Surely, in the 
course of three days, you might have found half an hour to 
have devoted to me. You well knew how much I relied on 
it ; you knew the pleasure it would have given me, and the 
disappointment and chagrin I should feel firom the neglect. 
I cannot, will not believe that these ccmsiderations have no 
weight with you. But a truce to complaints. I will hope 
that you have written, and that some accident has detained 
the letter. 

Your misfortunes so engrossed me, that I forgot to in-* 
quire about Augustine's horses ; and to give a caution, which 
I believe is needless, about the blank checks. Do not part 
with one till you see it filled up with sum and date. T. P. 
is apt to make mistakes, and once lost a check which was 
by accident detected before it was presented for payment. 

This is my fourth letter. Perhaps I write too mucb» and 
you wish to give me an example of moderation. 

Yours affectionately, 

A. Burr* 


Albany, 28tfa October, 1789. 
The history of your sufferings, this moment received, is 
truly unexpected and affecting. My sympathy was wholly 
with your unfortunate left hand. The distressing circum- 
stances respecting your face must certainly be owing to some- 
thing more than the mere misfortune of your bum. I can- 
not help feeling a resentment which must not be in this way 
expressed. I am sure your sufferings might have been pre«> 


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Aged 35.J MBMOiRs of aaron eurr. 291 

vented, I had promised myself that they were at an end 
many days ago. 

Forgive my splenetic letter by the last post. I cannot 
tell you how much I regret it. When I was complaining 
and accusing you of neglect, you were suffering the most ex- 
cruciating pain ; but I could not have imagined this unfortu- 
nate reverse. Impute my impatience to my anxiety to hear 
from you. I am pleased at the gayety of your letter. Do 
not think a moment of the consequences which you appre- 
hend from the wound. Let me only hear that you are re- 
lieved from pain, and I am happy. This is my fifth letter. 
Frederick is the laziest dog in the world for not having 
written me of your situation. 

Yours, truly and affectionately, 

A. Burr. 


Cliverack, 87th June, 1791. 

I have just arrived here, and find Mr. B. Livingston 
about to return to New-York. He informs me that he left 
home on Saturday, and sent you word that he was to meet 
me here. It was kind in him. I cannot say as much of 
the improvement you made of his goodness. 

It is surprising that you tell me nothing of Theo. I 
would by no means have her writing and arithmetic neg- 
lected. It is the part of her education which is of the 
most present importance. If Shepherd will not attend her 
in the house, another must be had ; but I had rather pay 
him double than employ another. Is Chevalier still punc- 
tual ? Let me know whether you are yet suited with horses, 
and how ? 

In your letters, speak of Brooks and Ireson's attendance. 
I wish you would often step into the office, and see a« 
many as you can of the people who come on business^ 
Does young Mr. Broome attend? Other and more inter^ 
esting questions have been made and repeated in my for^ 



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2fi2 MSMOiRS OF AARON BVRE. [Aged 35. 

iiier letters ; I will therefore, at present^ fatigue with no 
more interrogatories. Adieu. 

A« BlJKA« 


New.Yoifc, aoth JiiBB» 1191. 

My letter missed the post yesterday not firom my neg-* 
lect. It waited for Brooks's packet, which was not ready 
till the mail was gone. Mr. B. Liyingston just handed me 
the <me you intrusted to him. I was the more pleased 
with it, as he accompanied it with the most favourable ac^ 
count of your health I have received since your absence, 
and promises to forward this in the afternoon. 

The Edwardses dine with me; they had taken lodgings 
previous to their arrival, in consequence of a report made 
them by the little Bodowins (who were at Mrs. Moore's 
last winter), that my house was too small and inconvenient 
to admit of a spare bed. I esteem it a lucky escape. It 
would have been impossible io^ me to have borne the 
iatigue. Chaiiotte is worn out with sleepless nights, la* 
borious days, and an anxious mind. Hannah constantly 
drunk. Except William, who is a mere waiter, I have no 

My guests are eome to dinner. I have solicited them^ 
and shall again, to stay here ; but, if they positively decline 
it, I wilt go to Frederick. I will steal a moment after din« 
ner to add another page. 

July 2d. 
- The person Mr. Livingston expected to fcnrward my letter 
by did not go, nor could I hear of an opportunity, till, this 
moment, Mr. Williams offered to take charge of this. I 
had arranged every thing to set out for Frederick this 
nK»ming, when a mortification was found to have taken 
place on Chaiiotte's child, and she could not be moved. 
As I had carted every thing on board, which I assure you 


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Aged 35.} If B1COIR8 of aabon bijrr« 293 

was no small piece of business, I sent Natie with the three 
younger children, and kept Louise and Theo. to go with 
me, whenerer this disagreeable tvent is past 

Theo. never can or will make the progress we would 
wish her while she has so many avocations. I kept her j 
home a week in hopes Shepherd would consent to attend 
her at home, but he absolutely declined it, as his partners 
thought it derogatory to their dignity. I was therefore 
obUged to submit, and permit her to go as usual. She be* | 
gins to cipher. Mr. Chevalier attends regularly, and I / 
take care she never omits learning her French lesson. I j 
believe she makes most progress in this. Mr. St. Aivre '; 
never comes; he can get no fiddler, and I am told his \ 
furniture, &c. have been seized by the sheriff. I don't \ \ 
think the dancing lessons do much good while the weather \ j^ 
is so warm ; they fatigue too soon. I have a dozen and 
four tickets on hand, which I think will double in value at 
my return. As to the music, upon the footing it now is 
she can never make progress, though she sacrifices two 
thirds of her time to it. 'Tis a serious check to her other 
acquirements. She must either have a forte-piano at home, 
or renounce learning it. For these reasons I am impatient 
to go in the country. Her education is not on an advan* 
tageous footing at present. Besides, the playfellows she 
has at home makes it the most favourable moment for her 
to be at Uberty a few weeks, to range and gain in health a 
good foundation for more application at our return, when I 
hope to have her alone ; nay, I will have her alone. I can-, 
not live so great a slave, and she shall not suffer. My 
time shall not be an unwilling sacrifice to others ; it shall 
be hers. She shall have it, but I wrill not use severity ; and 
without it, at present, I can obtain nothing ; 'tis a bad habit, 
which she never deserves when I have her to myself. The 
moment we are alone she tries to amuse me with her im* 
provement, which the Uttle jade knows will always com* 
mwi V^Y attention ; but these moments are short and sel- 



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294 MEMOIRS OF AisoN BURK. [Aged 35. 

dom. I have so many trifling interruptions, that my head 
feels as if I had been a twelvemonth at sea. I scarcely 
know what I speak, and much less what I write. 

What a provoking thing that I, who never go out, who 
never dress beyond a decent style at home, should not 
have a leisure moment to read a newspi^r. It is a recre- 
ation I have not had since you left home, nor could I get 
an opportunity by water to send them to you. Albany 
will be a more favourable situation for every conveyance. 
But I don't understand why your lordship can't pay your 
obeisance at home in this four week vacation. I think I 
am entitled to a reason. 

Brooks attends regularly. Ireson from six to twelve, 
and from two to six, as punctual as possible. I should 
have made the office more my business had I known it 
would have been agreeable to you. I shall be attentive for 
the future. Bartow is here every morning. Most people 
either choose to wait for him, or call at some appointed 
hour when he can be here. Mr. Broome is here every 

God knows the quality of this epistle ; but the quantity I 
am certain you won't complain of. 'Tis like throwing the 
dice— a mere game at hazard ; like all gamblers, I am 
always in hopes the last will prove a lucky cast. Pray, in 
what consists the pleasure of a familiar correspondence ? 
In writing without form or reflection your ideas and feel- 
ings of the moment, trusting to the partiality of your friend 
every imperfect thought, and to his candour every ill-turned 
phrase. Such are the letters I love, and such I request of 
those I love. It must be a very depraved mind from whom 
such letters are riot acceptable. 

Neither the packet you left at Kingston, nor the money 
and greatcoat by Cotenel Gausbeck, have yet reached me. 
I wish you could have passed that leisure four weeks with 
me at Frederick's. How pleasant such a party would have 
been. How much quiet we should have enjoyed. 


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I was interrupted yesterday by the death of Charlotte's 
child. Though a long-expected event, still the scene is 
painful. . The mother's tears were ahnost too much forme. 
I hope nothing new will occur to impede my journey. I 
set off to-morrow morning. 

I am not so sick as when I wrote you last, nor so well as 
when you left me. I confess I have neglected the use of 
those medicines I found relief from. The situation of my 
family has obliged me to neglect myself, nor can I possibly 
use them at Frederick's. We shall be too crowded. I \^1 
neverdieless take them with me. I live chiefly on ale. I 
buy very good for one dollar per dozen. I have had twenty- 
one dozen of your pipe of wiae bottled. I think it very 

I thank you for yourxememhrance per post of 30th June. 
It was acceptable, though short. How is it possible you 'T^ 
had nothing more to write ? I know the head may be ex- ] "' , « ^ 
hausted, but I was in hopes the heart never could. I am 
surprised at your not getting my letters. I fear several have 
either gone to Albany or are lost. I shall, from this day, 
keep the dates. I wrote you last Sunday — so did Ireson. 

You can have no idea how comfortable the house seems 
since the small tribe have left it. A few weeks' quiet would 
restore my head. It really wants rest. You can't know 
how weak it is. I cannot guide a single thought. Those 
very trifling cares were ever more toilsome to me than im- 
portant matters ; they destroy the mind. But I am begin- 
ning another sheet ; I am sure you must be tired of this un- 
connected medley. I vdll bid you adieu. 

Theo. has begun to write several letters, but never finish- 
ed one. The only time she has to write is also the hour of \ T 
m 6®JPf^ leisure, and, when once sh^w interrupted, there i» { ^ 
no making her return to work. I have nothing more to 
write, except that I am yours affectionately, 

Thbo, Burr. 



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296^ MBMOUit OF AARON BURS. [Aged 35. 


AIb«ij»17& July, 1791. 

I returned yesterday firom Johnstown^ worn, down with 
heat, fatigue, and bad fare. It is some smiEdl consolation 
that these tedious journeys are not wholly unproductive. 

At Johnstown I was very unexpectedly and agreeably 
surprised by your letter of the 21st June, which was ad- 
dressed to me at Kingston. It had been intrusted to an 
Irishman, whom I at length met pretty much by accident. 
It informs me of the villany of Frederick's servants, and of 
hit wanting a rib. The latter I have equally at heart with 
you, and never lose sight of it ; but, really, the big mother 
will not do ; the father is not much better — ^reputable and 
rich, but coarse and disgusting. 

On my return to this place I found your letter of Wednes- 
day morning. I fear the bad road near Pelham will discour- 
age you firom riding. As you are likely to make considera- 
ble use of it, would it not be worth while to have a few 
days' work done on it ? About an hour after the receipt of 
the last-mentioned letter, I was made happy by the receipt 
of that of the 10th instant, vdiich came by sloop. You 
seem fatigued and worried, your head wild arid scarcely 
able to write, but do not name the cause. Whatever it may 
have been, I am persuaded that nothing will so speedily and 
effectually remove such sensations as gentle exercise (or 
'even if it is not gentle) in the open air. The extreme heat 
of the weather, and the uncomYnon continuance of it, have^ 
I fear, interrupted your good intentions on this head, espe- 
cially as you are no firiend to riding early. I vnsh you 
would alter this part (if it is any part) of your system. 
Walking early is bad on account of the dew ; but riding 
can, I think, in such |^ather, be only practised vrith advan- 
tage early in the moMng. The fireshness of the air^ wad 
the sprightliness of all animated nature^ are circumstances 
of no trifling consequence. 


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Aged 35.] MXMoiRB of aarok burb. 297 

I have no letter from you by the last post, which put me 
almost out of humour, notwithsteoding the receipt of the 
three above mentioned within forty-eight hours, of which, 
however, the latest is a week old. 

I hope Theo. will learn to ride on horseback. Two or 
three hours a day at French and arithmetic will not injure 
her. Be careful of green apples, &c. 

I have been persuaded to undertake a labbrious piece of 
business, which will employ me diligently for about ten 
days. The eloqueiice which wrought upon me was princi-^ 
pally money. I am now at wages. What sacrifices of 
time and pleasure do I make to this paltry object — ccmtemp^ 
tible indeed in itself, but truly important and attractive as 
the means of gratifying those I love. No other considera^ 
tion could induce me to spend another day of my life in 
objects in themselves uninteresting, and which afford neithej: 
instruction nor amusement. They become daily more dis« 
gusting to me ; in some degree, perhaps, ovnng to my state 
of health, which is much as when I left New- York. The 
least fatigue brings a slight return of fever. 

Your exercise, your medicine, and your reading are three 
subjects upon which you hate hitherto dwelt only in pros- 
pect. They must be all, in some degree, within your pow- 
er. I have a partiality for the little study as your bedroom. 
Say a word of each of these matters in your n6xt. 

Continue and multiply your letters to me. They are all 
my solace in this irksome and laborious confinement. The 
six last are constantly withiil my reach. I read them once 
a day at least. Write me of all I kave requested, and a 
hundred things which I have not. You best know how to 
please and interest. 

Your affectionate 


Vol. I.— P p 13« 



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[Aged 35. 


\ ^^ 


Pelham, 23d Jaly, 1791. 

I have just now received your welcome letter of the 17th 
inst. The pleasure imparted by so flattering a testimony 
of your good-will, was tempered with a large portion of alloy 
in the confession of your ill health. I was apprehensive 
travelling in the heat and bad accommodations would check 
your recovery. Do return home as soon as possible; or, 
rather, come to Pelham; try quiet, and the good air, and 
the attention and friendship of those who love you. You 
may conunand Bartow's attendance here whenever it suits 
you, and you have a faithful envoy in Frederick, who vrill 
go post with your commands as often as you wish. It is, 
indeed, of serious consequence to you, to establish your 
health be/cre you commence politician : when once you get 
engaged, your industry will exceed your strength ; your pride 
cause you to forget yourself. But remember, you are not 
your own ; there are those who have stronger claims than 
ambition ought to Jiave, or the public can have. 

Why did you undertake that very laborious task you men- 
tion? 'Tis certain I have a great pleasure in spending 
money, but not when it is accompanied with the unpleasant 
reflection of sacrificing your health to the pursuit. 

Theo. is tnuch better ; she writes and ciphers from five 
in the morning to eight, and also the same hours in the 
evening. This prevents our riding at those hours, except 
Saturday and Sunday, otherwise I should cheerfully follow 
your directions, as Isxise at five or six every day* Theo. 
makes amazing progre^ at figures. Though Louisa has 
worked at them all wintejy and appeared quite an adept at 
first, yet Theo. is now before her> and assists her to make 
her sums* You will^ally be surprised at her improve- 
ment. I think her time so well spent that I shall not wish 
to return to town sooner than I am obliged. She does not 
ride on horseback, though Frederick has a very pretty riding 


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Aged 35.] . MEMOIRS OF AARON BURR. 299 

hotse he keeps for. her ; but were she to attempt it now, 
there would be so much jealousy, and so many would wish 
to take their turn, that it would really be impracticable. 
But we have the best substitute imaginable. As you gave 
me leave to dispose of the old wheels as I pleased, I gave 
them as my part towards a wagon; we have a good plain 
Dutch wagon, that I ptefer to a carriage when at Pelham, 
as the exercise is much better. We ride in numbers and 
are well jolted, and without dread. 'Tis the most powerful 
exercise I know. No spring seats ; but, like so many pigs, 
we bundle together on straw. Four miles are equal to 
twenty. It is really an acquisition. I hope you will see 
our Uttle girl rosy cheeked and plump as a partridge. 

I rejoice with you at the poor major's return. I grow 
lazy, and love leisure; and, above all, the privilege of dis- 
posing of my own. time with quiet and retirement when it 
suits me. I have also made choice of the little study for 
my own apartment ; but with sa large a family, and so few 
conveniences, there can be no place of retirement. The va- 
cation hours of school, and Sunday, there is a constant 
hurlyburly, and every kind of noise, though it is really 
much better than I feared. I take all things as philosophi- 
cally as I know how ; provided I have no real evil to strug- 
gle vnth, I pass on with the tumult. I am now writing in 
the midst of it. The variety of sounds almost dim my sight ; 
but I write on, and trust to good luck more than reflection. 
I find so much to say that I need not hesitate for matter, 
though I might for propriety, of speaking. My spirits are 
better : as to industry, it is of a very flighty kind, and so va- 
riegated that it will not bear description. It required some 
attention to get matters en train : it was like moving. My 
disorder I have not, nor am not able to attend to ; 'tis at- 
tended with so many disagreeable .eircumstances that it is 
not practicable at present ; but my general health is greatly 
improved, and my head much reUeved. 

The hint you give respecting a rib for Frederick is more 


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300 MEMOIRS OF AASOH wvsL. [Aged 3S. 

dating than I can express. You say nothing of B. That 
part of my petition was not less interesting. I humbly }»^y 
your honour may take into consideration the equity and pro- 
priety of my prayer, and grant me not only a hearing, but 
tieign to give due consideration to the prayer of your hum- 
ble petitioner, being confident she will find grace and mercy 
booi your tribunal, with a full grant of all your endeavours 
to reinstate her in that desired tranquillity whose source is 
in your breast, to that happiness which is suspended on your 

The heat and drought exceed all recollection. The town 
is extremely unhealthy. It is fortunate we are here. There 
is always air — ^never heat enough to incommode one. I am 
certain the child would have suffered in town ; she was much 
reduced ; her voice and breast were weak. Adieu. I think 
you must be tired before this. Attend to yourself. If yott 
love us, you will. You will for your 

Thbodosia Burr. 

from mrs. burr. 

Pelham, 27th July, 1791. 

I have lost some of yomr letters, and I make no doubt 
some of mine have met the same fate ; for this reason I am 
discouraged trusting any more to the stage. I am obliged 
ter wait with all the patience I can command till the boat re« 
turns firom town. I have no prospect at present of forward- 
ingthis, I write to repeat my thanks for yours of the 17th. 
It is the last I have received. I read it firequently, and al- 
ways with new pleasure. I was disappointed at not having 
a tine bona you by the Saturday's mail. It is not fair to 
stand on punctiUo, when you know the disadvantages attend- 
ing my situation here. You ought to be doubly atten^e 
pour me saulager. It is not so practicable to send some 
nibs from home twice a week as you imagine. 

Poor Dr. Wright had his house two days ago burnt to the 
ground, and all the furniture, with every article of clothing 


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Aged 35.] MBKoiES of aarom bure. 




both of themselyes and the children* She is very disconso- 
late, and much to be pitied. We certainly see the old prov- 
erb very often verified. "That misfortunes never come 
singly," that poor little woman is a proof. 

They talk of a general v^rar in Europe ; in that case , 
le moulin will be an object. We wait your return to de- 
termine all things. The Emperess of Russia is as success- 
ful as I wish her. What a glorious figure will she make on 
the historical page ! Can you form an idea of a more happy 
mortal than she will be when seated on the throne of Con- 
stantinople ? How her ambition will be gratified ; the oppo- 
sition and threats of Great Britain, &c. will increase her 
triumph. I wish I had wit and importance enough to vmte 
her a congratulatory letter. The ladies should deify her, 
and consecrate a temple to her praise. It is a diverting 
thought, that the mighty Emperor of the Turks should be 
subdued by a woman. How enidable that she alone should 
be the avenger of her sex's wrongs for so many ages past. 
She seems to have awakened Justice, who appears to be a 
sleepy dame in the cause of injured innocence. 

Am I dreaming, or do you leave home again before you 
go to Philadelphia ? Tell all your intentions ; I love to plan 
and arrange. Our blind state here is one of our most vex- 
atious evils ; that state of uncertainty damps every view, and 
converts our most pleasing hopes into the most disappoint- 
ing reflections. 

Hy ! ho ! for the major.* I am tired to death of living 
in a nursery. It is very well to be amused vnth children at 
an idle hour; but their interruption at all times is insup- 
portable to a person of common reflection. My nerves wiH 
not admit of it. You judge ri^t as to the roads on the 

Theodosia is quite recovered, and makes great progress 
at ciphering. I cannot say so much in favour of her wri- 

* Major PrercMt, who was a widower, and yr^ome children were left in the car» 
«C Mn. BoiT whfle he made a vojrage to England. 




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302 MBMoiRs OP AARON BURS. [Aged 35. 

ting. I really think she lost the last month she went to 
Shepherd. She has not improved since last spring. She 
is sensible of it, is the reason she is not very desirous to 
give you a specimen. We now keep her chiefly at figures, 
which she finds very difficult, particularly to proportion 
them, and place them straight under each other. 

I will conclude my scrawl in the hope that Frederick 
will be able to forward it for me. Adieu. Remember to 
answer all my questions, and to take all my prayers in seri- 
ous consideration. Be attentive to your health, and you will 
add to the happiness of your 


to mrs. burr. 

Albany, Slat July, 1791. 

At length expectation is gratified, and my hopes — even 
my wishes, fulfilled. Your letters of the 16th and 23d came 
both by the last post. Their ease, their elegance, and, 
above all, the affection they contain, are truly engaging and 
amiable. Be assured that petitions so clothed and attended 
are irresistible, 

I anticipate with increasing impatience the hour of leav- 
ing this place, and am making every possible exertion to 
advance it. The delay of two days at Red Hook is indis- 
pensable, but will cost me much regret. 

I finished on Monday last, tolerably to my own satisfac- 
tion, and I beKeve entirely to that of my employers, the bu- 
siness so often mentioned to you. I received in reward fw 
my labour many thanks, twenty half joes, and promises of 
more of both of these articles. 

The last post is the only one I have missed since I left 
Esopus. I was in court upon a trial which gave me not a 
moment's intermission till ten o'clock that evening. Though 
I do not pay you in quality and manner (for yours are, wiUi* 
out flattery, inimitable), I believe I am nothing in arrear in 
number or quantity. The {»resent is indeed a poor return 


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Aged 35.] MBMoiRs of aabon burr. 303 

for your two last ; but though you miss of the recompense 
in this sheet, you will find it in the heart of your 

A. Burr. 

TO MRS. burr. 

Philadelphia, 27th October, 1791. 

I have this day received your letter dated Sunday morn- 
ing. It came, not by Mr. Sedgwick, but by the post, and 
was not put into the postoffice until Tuesday. It was 
therefore wicked of you not to add a line of that date. 

I am surprised to find that you had not received my let- 
ter from Brunswick. The illness I then wrote you of in- 
creased the next day, so that I did not arrive in town until 
Sunday. I am still at Miss Roberts's, and unsettled, but 
hope to be to-morrow in tolerable winter-quarters. I have 
had some trouble on that head, as well because I am diffi- 
cult to please, as because good accommodations are difficult 
to find. 

I receive many attentions and civilities. Many invita- 
tions to dine, &;c. All of which I have decUned, and have 
not eaten a meal except at my own quarters. You see, 
therefore, how little amusement you are to expect. I called 
at Mrs. L.'s (the elder), but have not seen either her, or as 
yet called to see her daughter. I have no news of Brooks, 
and am distressed by his delay, having scarcely decent 
clothes. I prudently brought a coat, but nothing to wear 
with it, and the expectation of Brooks has prevented me 
from getting any thing here. Send me a waistcoat, white 
and brown, such as you designed. You know I am never 
pleased except with your taste. 

I wrote you the day after my arrival here, but it being 
past the post hoiur, kept it till Tuesday ; made a small addi- 
tion, and gave it to Mat. to carry to the office. He put it 
into his coat-pocket (I suppose with his pocketJiandker- 
chief^ which you know he has occasion to flourish along 
street). On the day following, with a face of wo, he told 


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me he had lost the letter, but had concealed it from me in 
hopes to have fomid it. I hope it may fall into good-na- 
tured hands, and so get eventually into the postoffice. It 
was short and stupid ; unusually so, which perhaps vexed 
me the more for the loss. Be assured you have nothing to 

This letter can have nothing to recommend it but good- 
will and length, though the latter, without some other merit, 
ought to condemn it; and it would, I am sure, with any but 
you, who will give the best construction to any thing from 

A. Burr. 

TO MRS. burr. 

Philadelphia, 30th October, 1791. 

I am at length settled in winter-quarters. The house 
stands about twenty yards back from the street, and is in- 
habited by two widows. The mother about seventy, and 
the daughter about fifty. The latter, however, has her home 
in the country, and comes to town occasionally. The oU 
lady is deaf, and upon my first coming to take possession of 
my lodgings, she with great civility requested that I would 
never attempt to speak to her, for fear of injuring my lungs 
without being able to make her hear. I shall faithfrdly obey 
this injunction. The house is remarkably quiet, orderly, 
and is well furnished. They have never before taken a per- 
son to board, and will take no other. 

The honour which I have always done to your taste, and 
which indeed it merits, ought to have assured you that your 
advice requires no apology. I shall adopt your ideas about 
the wheels. If at the same time you had caused the com- 
mission to be executed, you would have added civility to 
good intentions. 

Theodosia must not attempt music in the way she was 
taught last spring. For the present, let it be wholly omit- 
ted. Neither would I have her renew her dancing till the 


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Aged 35.] MSMoiRS or aahon burr. 


family are arranged. She can proceed in her French, and 
get some teacher to attend her in the house for writing and 
arithmetic. She has made no progress in the latter, and is 
even ignorant of the rudiments. She was hurried through 
different rules without haying been able to do a single sum 
with accuracy. I would wish her to be also taught geogra- 
phy, if a proper master can be found ; but suspend this till 
the arrival of the major. 

It is remarkable that you should find yourself so soon dis- 
couraged from writing, because you had written one letter 
before you had received one. I had written you two before 
the receipt of your first. But I shall in ftiture expect two or 
three for one, as the labour of business vriU prevent my vm- 
ting frequently. 

Remember the note to be put in the bank on Wednesday. 
If Bartow should not arrive, send Strong for Willet Adieu. 


A. Burr. 





Philadelphia, 14Ui Nofyember, 1701. 

I recollect nothing of the letter I wrote to you, and which 
is referred to in yours of the 9th. You have no forgive- 
ness to ask or to receive of me. If it was necessary, you 
had it ev^i at the moment I read your letter. You mistake 
the nature of my emotions. They had nothing of asperity; 
but it is useless to explain them. I did it partially in a \eU 
ter I wrote soon after that which I sent you in answer to 
yours. It was not such a letter as I ought to have written, 
or you would have wished to receive ; I therefore retained it. 

In what way, or to what degree, I am affected by your 
letter of the 9th, will not be told until we meet. Be assu- 
red, however, that I look forward to that time with impa- 
tience and anticipate it with pleasure. It rests wholly with 
you, and your conduct on this occasion will be a better in^ 
dex to your heart than any thing you can write. 

Vol. I.— Q q 


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306 MSM0IR8 OP AARON BOER. [Aged 25. 

I enclose you a newspaper of this evening, containing a 
report by Mr. Jefferson about vacant lands. When you 
have perused it, send it to Melancton Smith. Take care, 
however, to get it back and preserve it, as it is one of Fre- 
neau's. I send you also three of Freneau's papers, which» 
with that sent this morning, are all he has published. I 
wish them to be preserved. If you find them amusing, you 
may command them regularly. Adieu. 

A. Burr. 


Philadelphia, 14th Norember, 1701. 

I am to-day in much better heart than at any time since 
I left New-York. John Walts took me yesterday a long 
walk, and, though fatigued, I was not exhausted. He takes 
every occasion to show me friendship and attention. I see 
no reason for your delaying to make a visit here. The 
roads are good and the season fine. If you do not choose 
to come directly to my lodgings, which are commodious and 
retired, I will meet you either at Dr. Edwards's, two miles 
from the Red Lion, or at the Red Lion, which is twelve 
miles from this city. Your first stage will be to Brunswick, 
your second Trenton, and your third here. 

I expressed myself ill if I led you to beUeve that I wish- 
ed any evidence or criterion of Theodosia's understanding, 
I desire only to promote its growth by its application and 
exercise. Her present employments have no such tenden- 
cy, unless arithmetic engages a part of her attention. Than 
this, nothing can be more useful, or better advance the ob- 
ject I have in view. Other studies, promising similar ad- 
vantages, must, perhaps, for the reasons you mention, be for 
the present postponed. 

I hope this weather will relieve you from the most de- 
pressing of all diseases, the influenza. Exergise will not 
cure, but will prevent the return of it. I prescribe, how- 
ever, what I do not practice. You have often wished for 


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Aged 35.] HBM01R8 of aaron burr. 307 

opportunities to read ; you now have, and, I hope, improve 
them. I should be glad to know how your attention is di- 
rected. Of the success I have no doubt. 

To the subject of politics, which composes a part of your 
letter, I can at present make no reply. The mode of com- 
munication would not permit, did no other reasons oppose it. 

I have no voice, but could imdoubtedly have some influ- 
ence in the appointment you speak of. For the man, you 
know I have always entertained much esteem ; but it is here 
said that he drinks. The leffect of the belief, even of the 
suspicion of this, could not be controverted by any exertion 
or influence of his friends. I had not, before the receipt of 
your letter, heard of his wishes on the subject you mention. 
The slander, if slander it be, I had he^d often and with 

Sincerely yours, 

A. Burr. 

Philadelphia, Ist December, 1791. 

Enclosed in Bartow's last letter came one which, from 
the handwriting, I supposed to be from that great fat fellow, 
Colonel Troup. Judge of my pleasure and surprise when 
I opened and found it was from my dear little girl. You 
improve much in your writing. Let your next be in small 

Why do you neither acknowledge nor answer my last let- 
ter ? That is not kind — ^it is scarcely civil. I beg you will 
not take a fortnight to answer this, as you did the other, 
and did not answer it at last ; for I love to hear from you, 
and still more to receive your letters. Read my last letter 
again, and answer it particularly. 

Your affectionate 

A. Burr. 

* In the ninth year of her age. 


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Philadelphia, 4th December, 1791. 

I fear I have for the present deprived you of the pleas* 
ure of reading Gibbon. If you cannot procure the loan of 
a London edition, I will send you that which I have here* 
In truth, I bought it for you, which is almost confessing a 
robbery. Edward Livingston and Richard Harrison have 
each a good set, and either would cheerfully obUge you. 

To render any reading really amusing or in any degree 
instructive, you should never pass a word you do not under- 
stand, or the name of a person or place of which you have 
not some knowledge. You will say that attention to such 
matters is too great an interruption. If so, do but note them 
down on paper, and devote an hour particularly to them 
when you have finished a chapter or come to a proper 
pause. After an experiment of this mode, you will never 
abandon it. Lempriere's Dictionary is that of which I spoke 
to you. Purchase also Macbeau's ; this last is appropriated 
to ancient theocracy, fiction, and geography ; both of them 
will be useful in reading Gibbon, and still more so in read- 
ing ancient authors, or of any period of ancient history. 

If you have never read Plutarch's Lives (or even if you 
have), you will read them with much pleasure. They are 
in the City Library, and probably in many private ones. Be- 
loe's Herodotus will amuse you. Bartow has it. You had 
better read the text without the notes ; they are difiuse, and 
tend to distract the attenticm. Now and then they contain 
some useful explanation. After you have read the author, 
you will, I think, with more pleasure read the notes and re- 
marks in course by themselves. 

You expressed a curiosity to peruse Paley's Philosophy 
of Natural History. Judge Hobart has it. If you read it, 
be sure to make yourself mistress of all the terms. But, 
if you continue your Gibbon, it will find you in employ- 
ment for some days. When you are weary of soaring 


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Aged 35.] MBM01R8 OP AA&ON BIOLR. 309 ^^ . 

with him, and wish to descend into common life, read the 
Comedies of Plautus. There is a tderable translation in 
the City Library. Such books give the most Uvely and 
amusing, perhaps much the most just picture, of the man* 
ners and degree of refinement of the age in which they I 
were written. I have agreed with Popham for his share m 
the City Library. ; 

The reading of one book will invite you to another. I 
cannot, I fear, at this distance, advise you successfully ; 
much less can I hope to assist you in your reading. You 
bid me be silent as to my expectations; for the present I 
obey. Your complaint of your memory, even if founded 
in fact, contains nothing discouraging or alarming. I would 
not wish you to possess that kind of memory which retains 
with accuracy and certainty all names and dates. I never 
knew it to accompany much invention or fancy. It is i 
almost the exclusive blessing of dulness. The mind which ^ 
perceives clearly adopts and appropriates an idea, and is 
thus enlarged and invigorated. It is of little moment 
whether the book, the time, or the occasion be recollected. 

I am inclined to dilate on these topics, and upon the 
effects of reading and study on the mind ; but this would 
require an essay, and I have not time to write a let* 
ter. I am also much prompted to convince you, by unde- 
niable proof, that the ground of your complaint does not 
exist except in your own ^^prehensions, but this I reserve 
for an interview. When I am informed of your progress, 
and of the direction of your taste, I may have something 
further to reconunend. 

There is no probabiUty of an adjournment of Congress 
during the holydays, or for any longer time than one day. 
The possibility of my being able to leave the business of 
Congress, and make a visit to New- York, diminishes daily. 
I wish much, to see you, and, if you are equally sincere, 
we can accomplish it by meeting at Trenton. I can be 
there on Friday night, but with much greater convenience on 


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310 MSM0IR8 OP AARON BVRR. [Aged 35. 

Saturday noon or forenoon, and stay tiU Monday morning 
at least. Congress adjooms every week from three o'clock 
on Friday until eleven o'clock on Monday following. If, 
therefore, you write me that you will be at Trenton at the 
times above mentioned, you may rely on seeing me there : I 
mean at Mrs. Hooper's. This, though very practicable at 
present, will not long be so, by reason of the roads, which 
at present are good. If you make this trip, your footman 
must be on horseback; the burden will be otherwise too 
great, and I must have timely notice by letter. Mr. and 
Mrs. Paterson have invited you to make their house your 
home at Brunswick. 

Mat. laughs at your compUments, as you know he does 
at every thing. I expect Theodosia's messages to be writ- 
ten by herself. I inquire about your health, but you do 
not answer me. 

Yours affectionately, 

A. Burr. 


Philadelphia, December 13th, 1791. 

I regret the disappointment of the Trenton visit, but still 
more the occasion of it. Are you afflicted with any of your 
old, or with what new complaint ? 

Tell Bartow that I have this evening received his letter 
by Vining, who arrived in town last Monday. Beg him 
never again to write by a private hand about business when 
there is a post. After the lapse of five or six days vrithout 
an answer, he should have sent a duplicate. You have 
herewith the note for 4500 dollars. 

I was charmed with your reflections on the books of two 

of our eminent characters. You have, in a few woids, 

' given a lively portrait of the men and their works. I could 

not repress the vanity of showing it to a friend of one of 

the authors. 

The melancholy news of the disasters of our western 


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army has engrossed my thoughts for some days past. No 
pubUc event since the war has given me equal anxiety. 
Official accounts were received from General Sinclair on 
Sunday. The reports which preceded, and which have 
doubtless reached you before this time, had not exaggerated 
the loss or the disgrace. No authentic estimate of the num- 
ber of the killed has yet been received ; I fear it will not be 
less than eight or nine hundred. The retreat was marked 
with precipitation and terror. The men disencumbered 
themselves even of their arms and accoutrements. It is 
some small consolation to have learned that the troops which 
fled to Fort Jefferson have received a supply of provisions, 
and are secure from any attack of the savages. 

I approve, and hope at some time to execute, your plan 
of literary repose. TeU Bartow to send a deed for me to 
execute to Carpenter, pursuant to our contract. Pray at- 
tend to this ; you will see that it may be a little interesting 
to me. 

Yours truly, 

A. Burr. 


Phikdelphia» l5Ui December, 1791. 

The post which arrived this afternoon (Thursday) l^rought 
the mail which left New- York on Tuesday, and with it 
your sprightly and engaging letter of the 12th. I thank 
you for your attention to my friend, and still more for the 
pleasure you express at his visit. Your " nonsense" about 
Voltaire contains more good sense than all the strictures I 
have seen upon his works put together. 

Next to your own ideas, those you gave me from Mr. J. 
were most acceptable. I wish you would continue to give 
me any fugitive ideas or remarks which may occur to you 
in the course of your reading ; and what you call your rat- 
ding way is that of all others which pleases me the most. 


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312 ifsMoiRS OF AARON BURR. [Aged 35. 

In short, let the way be your own, and it cannot fail to be 
acceptable, to please, and to amuse. 

I enclose this evening's paper. It contains Strictures on 
Publicola, which you, perhaps, may find worth reading. 

From an attentive perusal of the French Constitution, and 
a careful examination of their proceedings, I am a wan^ ad« 
mirer of the essential parts of the plan of government which 
they have instituted, and of the talents and disinterestedness 
of the members of the National Assembly. Adieu. 

A. Burr. 


Philadeli^iia, 18th December, i791. 

Mr. Learned arrived yesterday with your letter of the 
15th. He appeared pleased with your attenticms, which 
you know gratified me. 

I cannot recollect what hint I gave to Majpr P. which 
could have intimated an expectation of seeing you in New- 
York during the current year ; unless, indeed, some of those 
wishes which I too often cherish should have escaped me. 
We shall have no intermission of business during the holy- 
days. If I should find it at any time practicable to absent 
myself for a few days, it will most probably be about the 
middle of next month. You haver indeed, in your last let- 
ter, placed yourself before me in the most amiable light ; and, 
without soliciting, have much more strongly enticed me to 
a visit. But for the present I must resist. Will it not be 
possible for you to meet me at Trenton, that we may travel 
together to New-YoA? If you assent to this, I will name 
a day. Yet do not expose your health. On this subject 
you leave me still to apprehension and conjecture. 

Your account of Madame Genlis surprises me, and is a 
new evidence of the necessity of reading books before we 
put them into the hands of children. Reputaticm is indeed 
a precarious test, I can think at present of nothing better 
than what you have chosen. 


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Aged 35.] MBMOIR6 of aabon buer. S18 

I am much in want of my maps of the different parts <tf 
North America- It will, J believe, be best to send them all, 
carefully put up in a box which must be made for the pur* « 
pose. You may omit the map of New-Jersey. The pack* 
ing will require much care, as many are in sheets. Ask 
Major P. for the survey he gave me of the St. Lawrence, (rf 
different parts of Canada, and of other provinces, and send 
them also forward. They may be sent by the Amboy stage, 
taking a receipt, which transmit to me. 

Yon wbuld excuse the slovenliness, and admire the length 
of this scrawl, if you could bok into my study, and see 
the file of imanswered, and eventenperused letters ; bundles 
of pa^rs on public and on private business ; all soliciting 
that preference of attention which Theodosia knows how to 
conunand from her 


to mrs. burr. 

Fhikde^liia, Wh Decmober, 17N. 

What can have exhausted or disturbed you so much ? 
You might surely have given some hint of the cause. It is 
an additional reason for wishing you here. If I had, before 
I left New- York, sufficiently reflected on the subject, I would 
never have consented to this absurd and irrational mode ot 
life. If you wUl come with Mr. Monroe, I will see you to 
New- York again ; and if you have a particular aversion to tho 
city of Philadelphia, you shall stay a day or two at Dr. Ed- 
wardte's, ten miles firom town, where I can spend the greatear 
part of every day. 

You will perhaps admire that I cannot leave Congress as 
well as others. This, if a problem, can only be solved at a 
personal interview. 

You perceive that I have received your letter of the 18th. 
It was truly acceptable, and needed no apology. I do not 
always expect letters of wit or science ; and I beg you 
will write wholly without restraint, both as to quantity and 

Vol. I.— R r 14 


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manner. If you write little, I shall be glad to receive it ; 
and if you write more, I shall be jstill more glad ; but when 
• you find it a troublesome or laborious occiqpation, which I 
have the vanity to hope will never happen, omit it. I take, 
and shall continue to use, this freedom on my part ; but I 
am for ever obliged to put some restraint on myself, for I 
often sacrifice the calls of business to the pleasure of wri- 
ting to you. 

37th December, at night 
This evening I am suffering under a severe paroxysm of 
the headache. Your letters, received to-night, have tended 
to beguile the time, and were at least a temporary relief. I 
am now sitting with my feet in warm water, my head 
wrapped in vinegar, and drinking chamomile tea, and all 
hitherto to little purpose. I have no doubt, however, but I 
shall be well to-morrow. As I shall not probably sleep till 
momiDg, and shall not rise in season to acknowledge your 
kind letters, I have attempted this Une. I am charmed with 
your account of Theodosia. Kiss her a hundred times for 
^ , me. 

^' The reports of my style of life are, I should l^ave thought, 

Y ^' ( too improbable to be related, and much too absurd to gain 

11 belief, 01 even attention. 

I have laeen these three weeks procuring two trifles to 
send you ; but am at length out of all patience veith the 
stupidity and pr6crastination of those employed ; especially 
as the principal ahicle is a piece of furniture, a personal 
convenience, which, when done, will not cost five dollars. 
The other is somethin|[ between a map and a picture. 
Though they will not arrive at the season I wished, they 
will at any season be tokens of the affection of 

A. Burr. 


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Aged 36.] MEMOIRS of aaron burr. 315 

TO MRS. burr. 

Philadelphia, 2d Janoaiy, 1702. 

Mt dear Thbodosia, 
Mr. Trumbull is good enough to engage to deliver this. 
You have long known and admired the brilliancy of his ge- 
nius and wit ; I wish you also to know the amiable qualities 
of his heart. 

A. Burr. 


Philadelphia, 19th February, 1792. 

Yesterday I received your truly affectionate letters ; one 
dated Thursday evening, the other without date. 

You may expect a host of such falsehoods as that about 
the Indian war. I have not been offered any c<Hnmand. 
When the part I take in the bill on that subject shall be 
fully known, I am sure it will give entire satisfaction to my 

It will not do for me at present to leave this place. I 
shall therefore expect you here ; and if you cannot spare 
the time to come nere, I will meet you either at Prince- 
ton or Trenton (preferring the latter) any evening you shall 
name. Saturdays and Simdays, you know, are our holy- 
days. I can with ease be at Trenton at breakfast on Sat- 
urday morning, or even on Friday evening, if thought more 
eligible. But I expect this letter will pass you on your way 
here. My rooms at No. 130 South Second-street are ready 
to receive you and Mrs. A., if she chooses to be of the party. 
But the tenour of your last induces me to think that you in- 
tend a very short visit, or rather, that you will come ex- 
press. Arrange it as you please, provided I see you some- 
where and soon. 

I have' a letter from Witbeck of a later date than that by 
Strong, and of much more satisfactory tenour. I believe he 
will not disappoint the expectations of my friends. He re* 


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■316 ifXMoixs OF AARON BUKR. [Aged 36. 

quests that some persons in New-York may write to him 
and others in and about Albany, giving an account of the 
expectations in Ulster, Dutchess, and the Southern District, 
and naming persons who may be corresponded with. 

My lodgings are on the ri^t hand as you come. Drive 
directly up a white gate between two lamps, and take pos- 
sessicm. If I should be out, the servant will know where, 
and vnll find me in a few minutes. Do not travel with any 
election partisan (unless an opponent). 




AUmoj, Sth Angaft, 17UB. 

My dsar Theo., 
I have received your letter, which is very short, and says 
not one word of your mamma's health. You talk of going to 
Westchester, but do not say when or how. 

Mr. and Mrs. Witbeck and their daughter talk very much 
about you, and would be very glad to see you. 

See what a letter I have got from little Burr,* and all his 
own work too. Before I left home I vntote him a letter re- 
questing him to tell me what I should bring him ; and in 
answer, he begs me to bring manuna and you. A pretty 
present, indeed, that would be ! 

Your father, 

A. Burr. 


Philadelphia, 24th Septeiid>er, 1792. 

Dear Sir, 

This letter will be handed to you by Mr. Beckley. He 

possesses a fund of information about men and things. The 

republican ferment continues to work in our state ; and the 

time, I think, is approaching very fast when we shall utii- 

* Nephew of Cokmel Burr. 


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Aged 36,] 



yersally reprobate the maxim of sacrificing public justice 
and national gratitude to the interested ideas of stodi-job- 
bers and brokers, whether in or out of the legislature of the 
United States. 

Your friends everywhere look to you to take an active 
part in removing the monarchical rubbish of our govern- 
ment. It is time to speak out, or we are undone. The as- 
sociation in Boston augurs well. Do feed it by a letter to 
Mr. Samuel Adams. My letter will serve to introduce you 
to him, if enclosed in one from yourself. Mrs. Rush joins 
me in best compliments to Mrs. Burr, with 
Yours sincerely, 

Benjamin Rush. 


Westchester, 8th October, 1793. 

— I rose up suddenly from the sofa, and rubbing my 
head — " What book shall I buy for her ?" said I to myself. 
** She reads so much and so rapidly that it is not easy to find 
proper and amusing French books for her ; and yet I am so 
flattered with her progress in that language, that I am re- 
sdved that she shall, at all events, be gratified. Indeed, I 
owe it to her.** So, after walking once or twice briskly 
across the floor, I took my hat and salUed out, determined 
not to return till I had purchased something. It was not 
my first attempt. I went into one bookseller's shop after 
another. I found plenty of fairy tales and such nonsense^ 
fit for the generality of children of nine or ten years old, 
" These," said I, " will never do. Her imderstanding be- 
gins to be above such things ;" but I could see nothing that 
I would offer with pleasure to an intelligent, welUinformed 
girl of nine years old. I began to be discouraged. The 
hour of dining was come. "But I will search a Uttle 
longer." I persevered. At last I found it. I found the very 
thing I sought. It is contained in two volumes octavo, 
handsomely boimd, and with prints and registers. It is a 


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318 MBMoiRS OF AARov BUEm. [Aged 36. 

woriL of fancy, but replete with iiwtractioii and amusement. 
I must present it with my own hand. 

Your affectionate 



The correspondence in the last chapter between Mr. 
and Mrs. Burr has been selected and published that the 
world may judge him as husband and parent, so far as his 
letters afford a criterion. As literary productions they can- 
not fail to interest and amuse. 

On the 8th day of March, 1790, the legislature passed an 
act appointing Gerard Bancker, treasurer, Peter Curtenius, 
auditor, and Aaron Burr, attorney-general, a board of com- 
missioners to report on the subject of the various claims 
against the state for services rendered, or injuries sustained, 
during the war of the revolution. The task was one of 
great delicacy, and surrounded with difficulties. On Colonel 
Burr devolved the duty of making that report. It was per- 
formed in a masterly manner. When presented to the 
house, notwithstanding its magnitude, involving claims of 
every description to an immense amount, it met with no 
opposition from any quarter. On the 5th of April, 1792, 
the report was ordered to be entered at length on the jour^ 
jials of the assembly, and formed the basis of all future set- 
tlements with public creditors on account of the war. In 
it the various claimants are classified ; legal and equitable 
principles are established, and applied to each particular 
class. The report occupies eighteen folio pages of the 
journals of the assembly. An extract from it is made, a» 
justly meriting a place in this work. 
The said report is in the words and figures following : — ► 


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Aged d6.] MBMOIB8 OF iJLRON BURR. 819 

" The treasurer, the auditor, and the attorney*generaI, pur- 
suant to the act entitled An act to receive and state accounts 
against this state^ did forthwith, after the passing of the said 
act, give such notice of their appointment and duties, and of 
the times and places for the execution thereof, and of the 
period by the said act limited for receiving and auditing 
claims, as is directed by the said act. And do herewith 
transmit to the legislature their report upon the accounts 
and claims against the state, which have been thereupon 

" The anxiety of the commissioners to render the execu- 
tion of this trust useful and acceptable has occasioned a 
delay of some weeks ; if their success in this attempt has 
been in any degree proportioned to their attention to the 
subject, it will furnish their excuse ; indeed, when the legis- 
lature shall have seen the number, the variety, and intri- 
cacy of the matters which have been submitted to the con- 
sideration of the commissioners, it is hoped that a further 
apology will be thought unnecessary. 

" The commissioners have endeavoured to reduce these 
various demands into classes, in such manner as to present 
to the legislature, in one view, all which have appeared to 
depend on similar principles. Notwithstanding their ut- 
n^ost attention to this object, they have found it necessary 
to report on a considerable number of single cases. As the 
authority under which they have acted required of them a 
state of facts, together with their opinion thereupon, when- 
ever there was a want of uniformity either in the facts 
submitted or in the principles to be applied in the deter- 
mination, they have thought that strict justice could not 
be done to the merit of the claim without a separate dis- 
cussion ; though this has tended to lengthen the report be- 
yond what could have been wished, and to a degree which 
perhaps may in some instances be thought prolix, yet the 
commissioners supposed it of m(»nent that their investiga- 
tion should be not only satisfactory to themselves, but that 


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830 MBMOiKft OF AAROir BVEB. [Aged 36. 

it should be apparent to the citizens upon whose daims 
they haye pronounced, that each hath received a distinct 
attention, and that demands substantially different from 
each other hare not been inccmsiderately blended. If die 
perusal of the proceedings now submitted shall giro an 
impression of this kind, it will, in the opinion of the com- 
missioners, tend to produce a more cheerful acquiescadce in 
the determination of the legislature, when that determina- 
tion shall reject the demand, and prerent a reyival of claims 
which shall now be extinguished. The commissicMiers 
hare thought that these were desirable objects, and have 
therefore been cautious of generalizing, so as to destroy 
real distinctions, or suppress a fact eyen of the lightest 

** In order to preserve uniformity in their opinions, the 
commissioners have adopted certain principles, from which 
the hardship of any particular case hath not induced them 
to depart. The most general and important of these are, 

" First. Where any species of claims is barred by an act 
of the legislature, they have considered the act as a bar to 
their investigation, farther than to ascertain it to be unques- 
tionably within the meaning of the law. This prindple 
will be found to extend to all claims for pay and rations 
alleged to be due for militia service ; to most of the de* 
mands against forfeited estates ; to all claims for property 
sequestered, when the sequestration was warranted by the 
resoluticms of the convention and the authority of the com^ 
missioners ; to all claims of payment of state agents' notes, 
and to some other particular cases, which will appear in the 
report. In support of this principle the commissioners 
have considered, that to sanction by their opinicm the admis- 
sion of claims against the spirit and letter of the statute 
would be an impeachment of the wisdom of those laws ; 
would be arrogating an authority not exercised by, or per- 
mitted to, any court of law or equity, and would open a 
door to the importunate and perhaps least deserving class 


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Aged 35.] MEMOIRS of aaron bitre. 321 

of citizens, while others, having similar demands, had with*- 
drawn them from a spirit of submission to the laws, by 
which these demands were precluded* The annmission- 
ers have been confirmed in the propriety of their ideas by 
a reflection that, if it shall for any reasons seem expedient 
to the legislature to repeal or suspend the limitation of 
those or any of those statutes, the avenues to redress will 
at once be open through the ordinary officers of the state, 
without farther legislative interposition ; and that the oppor* 
tunities of recompense would then be notorious and equal ; 
but that the redress, if any should be obtained through the 
medium of the conunissibners, would be partial in its oper- 
ation, and to the exclusion of those who with equal merits 
had acquiesced in the known laws. 

^Second. In the cases of claims for services done and 
snppties furnished during the war, when the demand, though 
originating under the authority of this state, is properly 
against the United States, the opinion of the commissioners 
is against the allowance of any recompense, because those 
claims should more properly be preferred to Congress ; and 
for that this state can have no credit vnth the United States 
for payment or assumptions after the 1st day of October, 

^ And that, therefore, the claimants having neglected to 
exhibit their demands within the period during whiqh this 
state could without loss. have assumed them, cannot com* 
plain if they are now referred to the proper tribunal. Pay- 
ments by the state were in such cases, at all times, of 
fetvour, and not of right 

^' Third. All claims for the subsistence and services of 
the levies and militia, or other troops, composing a part of 
the continental army, or destined to join the army, and 
moving to such places of destination, or under tihe command 
or orders of a continental officer, and aU claims for sup- 
plies and services beforehand for such troops, are consid- 
ered as proper against the United States only, and ar^ 

Vol. I.— S s 14* 


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822 MKM0IR8 OF AARON BURR. [Aged 35. 

classed accordingly ; the commissioners haye been led to a 
more strict attention to this distinction by the reasons just 
before mentioned, and are warranted by the practice of the 
continental commissioners for settling accounts, in deck- 
ring that such accounts and demands were proper against 
the United States. 

** Principles of more limited operation, and other re- 
marks, will appear in those parts of the report to which 
they apply. 

'^ Explanatory of particular parts, and of the general form 
of the report, it may be proper to observe, 

'^ That where the claim or account appears, upon the fiEice 
of it, to be evidently against the United States only, or for 
other reasons palpably inadmissible, the commissioners have 
thought it would have been superfluous to state the proof, 
and have therefore, in those cases only, given such abstracts 
of the claim or account as suffice to render the ei^ception 

** In giving their opinion, the commissioners have not de- 
tailed all the reasond which led to it, but have given a sum- 
mary of such as appeared to them most conclusive ; and, as 
w^U in this as in stating the facts, ha?e aimed at as much 
brevity as appeared to them to consist with perspicuity. If 
they shall be found in any instances obscure, a reference to 
the claim and proofs will probably elucidate them. When 
the claim is provided for by existing laws, the opinion, of 
the commissioners refers the claimant to the mode pointed 
out by such law. 

** Demands of different natures by the same person are 
placed under the head which comprises the greater demand. 
The claim and vouchers being in such cases usually con- 
tained in the same paper or annexed together, it was neces- 
sary so to place them in the report that there might be no 
confusion in the references. 

•* To produce facility in the review of these proceedings, 
the documents referred to are all herewith delivered, and 


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Aged 35.] MBMoiRS of aaron bvrr. 828 

are in bundles, marked agreeably to the heads under which 
they are classed. 

" Claims for Militia Pay. 
[In the report a number of cases are here inserted.] 
"By an act passed the 27th of April, 1784, entitled An 
act for the settlement of the pay of the levies and militia 
for their services in the late war, an4 for other purposes 
therein mentioned, the mode in which the rolls and abstracts 
for pay and subsistence are to be made out and settled is 
particularly pointed out, and competent powers and direc« 
tions for the Uquidation of those accounts are thereby given 
\o the treasurer and auditor. 

" By the 14th section of an act passed the 21st of April, 
1787, entitled An act for the relief of persons who paid 
money into the treasury, &c., the aforesaid act of the 27th 
of April, 1784, is repealed. The conunissioners consider 
this repeal as an exclusion of all further claims for pay and 
subsistence of the miUtia and levies. They are constrained 
to adopt this opinion, not only from the obvious intention of 
the act, but because, by the absolute repeal of the act of the 
27th of April, 1784^ there remains no prescribed mode of 
authenticating these demands ; that any rules which the dis- 
cretion of the conunissioners should lead them to adopt 
would have been unknown to the claimants, who could 
therefore have had no opportunity of adapting their demands 
to such rules; and because, if the legislature shall be dis« 
posed to direct compensations for such services, it will, in 
the opinion of the commissioners, be most properly effected 
by a revival of the said act of the 27th of April, 1784, with 
such further provisions and checks as may be thought ne- 
cessary ; or by some other general statute, to be passed for 
those purposes, and which may give equal opportunities to 
the claimants, and place the hquidation and settlement of 
such demands in the hands of the ordinary officers of tho 


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8M MBMOUtS OF AAmON SUEB* [A^cd 3&. 

" Claims far services^ supplies, and lossesy whichy if ad- 
missibhy can be made against the United States only. 
[In the report details follow, and the commissioners re- 
mark] — 

" The foregoing claims and accounts the conmiisaioners 
conceive to be proper against the United States only. This 
is, in their opinion, sufficiently evident in most of the cases 
from a bare statement of the demands. Some few appear 
to require a more special report. The resolutions of Con- 
gress of the 7th of May, 1787, and 24th of June, 1788, rel- 
ative to the settlement of accounts between the United 
States and individual states, will show the extent ol the 
powers of the Continental Commissioners, and will serve to 
explain the opinions in such of the preceding cases as may 
appear to require farther illustration. 

" Claims far payment of State Agents^ Certificaies. 

*^Bj the 25th section of the act passed the 5th of Hay, 
1786, entitled An act for the payment of certain sums of 
money ^ and for other purposes therein mentioned, all per* 
sons holding or possessing certificates of Udny Hay or any 
of his assist&nts, or of Jacob Cuyler, Morgan Lewis, wr 
Andrew Bostwick, were required to present them, in the 
manner therein prescribed, to the treasurer, before the 1st 
of September, 1786; and those who failed therein are there-^ 
by declared to be barred and for ever precluded from any 
compensation, of which the treasurer was directed to give 
pubUc notice by advertisement, which was accordingly done. 

"By another act, passed the 31st of Mardi, 1787, the 
time for presenting the certificates of Udny Hay and his as* 
sistants was extended until the first of May then next, virhich 
time has not been further extended by any law of this state : 
so that all certificates of those denominations which were 
not presented widiin the times and in the manner specified 


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Aged 85.] MBMoiRs of aaron burr. 835 

in those laws, are expressly barred and for ever precluded 
from compensation. 

" The commissioners have therefore, for the reasons con- 
tained in the observations prefixed to this report, conceived 
that a reference to the aforesaid acts was the most proper 
discharge of their duty vrith respect to all claims of com- 
pensation for such certificates. 

" Claims for grain impressed for the use of the army by 
virtue of warrants issued by his easceUency the governor^ 
pursuant to an act passed 2Sd June, 1780. 
" The kw authorizing these impresses declares the arti- 
cles impressed to be for the use and service of the armiy, 
and that the owner shall be entitled to receive from the pub^* 
lie officer authorized to pay the same the current price for 
the articles impressed, but does not say by whom that pub« 
lie officer is to be appointed. The commissioners have, 
however, no doubt but these were proper claims against the 
United States, and would have been allowed by the Conti- 
nental Commissioner if exhibited in proper season ; there* 
fore, and for the reasons contained in the second prelimina- 
ry observation, the commissioners are of the opinion that 
these claimants cannot of right demand pajrment of diis 

" The claims of Van Rensselaer and Dumond, the com- 
missioners are of opinion are reasonable ; that, having been 
employed imder the governor, the claimants could have no 
demand against the United States, and that the charges are 
proper against this state. 

" Claims for services in assisting H. I. Van Rensselaer and 
Egbert Dumond in making the said impresses. 
''The commissioners consider the reasons just before 
stated in favour of the claims of Van Rensselaer and Du- 
mond to apply to the eleven preceding, and that they are 
therefore proper charges against this state. 


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326 MSMouts OF AAROK BURK. [Aged 86. 

" Claims for payment of debts due from persons whose 
property hath been forfeited or sequestered. 

^^The several foregoing demands against forfeited es- 
tates arose after the 9th day of July, 1776, and are ex- 
pressly precluded by the 42d section of an act passed the 
12th of May, 1784, entitled An act for the speedy sale of 
the confiscated and forfeited estates within this state, atid 
for other purposes therein mentioned. 

^^ The next twenty-five claims are for satisfieiction of debts 
out of the proceeds of property sequestered. The estates 
of the several debtors have become forfeited, but in some 
instances no property hath come to the hands of the com- 
missioners of forfeitures ; and in others, the property which 
has come to their hands hath been insufficient for the dis- 
charge of debts which have been certified. 

'^ The succeeding twenty-six claims are to have debts 
satisfied out of the proceeds of property sequestered, though 
there had been no conviction of adherence or other forfeit- 
ure of the estate of the debtors. 

''The commissioners are of opinion that a law should be 
passed authorizing the treasurer to pay demands against 
forfeited estates, in all cases where there still remains in 
his hands a surplus from the proceeds of such estates, noW 
withstanding the limitation contained in the act of 12th May, 
1784. But the commissioners would recommend that some 
mode different from that prescribed in the said act be di- 
rected for the ascertaining the amount of those demands. 
The several claimants and such others as have neglected to 
avail themselves of the benefit of the said act, may, in the 
opinion of the conunissioners, be with propriety holden to 
strict legal proof of their respective demands, in due course 
of law, in some court of record, where the interest of the 
state may be defended by some officer to be for that pur- 
pose appointed. 

" The commissioners are further of opinion, that where 


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Aged 35.] MBM0IR8 of aakon burr. 927 

there has been a sequestration of any part of the property 
of a person whose estate hath become forfeited^ the avails 
of the property so sequestered, as far as the same can be 
distinguished^ should be subject to the payment of his debts, 
in like manner as may be provided with respect to other 
demands against forfeited estates ; but it would not, in the 
opinion of the commissioners, be at this time advisable to 
assume the payment of the debts of persons whose property 
hath been sequestered, and where there hath been no other 
forfeiture or confiscation. 

" Claims relative to sequestrationy and property taken by 

orders of the Convention. 
*^ These persons were voluntarily within the British lines, 
and their property was therefore liable to sequestration un- 
der the acts of the Convention. They produce a certificate 
of thehr attachment to the American cause, signed by some 
respectable characters. But being vnthin the resolutions of 
the Convention, the commissioners cannot advise ^ recom- 

^^GsRARB BxNCKER, Treasurer* 

" Peter T. Curtenius, State Auditor. 

" Aaron Burr, Attorney-general.^ 

On the 19th of January, 1791, Colcmel Burr was ap- 
pointed a senator of the United States, in the place of Gen- 
eral Schuyler, whose term of service would expire on the 
4th of March follovdng. Until about this period he was but 
little known as a partisan poUtician. After the organizaticMi 
of the federal government under the new constitution, he 
appears to have felt a great interest in its operations. In 
the French revolution also, his feelings were embarked ; and 
he was among the number of those who condemned the cold 
and repulsive neutrahty which characterized the adminis- 
tration of that day. That he was now about to launch into 
the troubled ocean of politics was evident to Mrs. Burr, and 


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' ' " * 828 MBUOiES OP AA&oir Bimm. [Aged 86. 3 T*^ 

tberefore, in a letter to him under date <^ the 2dd of July, V^-^ / 
1791, she lays, " It is of serious ccmsequence to you to es- - . • ^^ 
tablish your health before you commence politician^ &c. . ^ ^^f^*^ 

In the autumn of 1791 Congress conyened at Philadel-f* 
phia, and Cdonel Burr took his seat in the Senate of the 
United States* It has often been remarked of him, and 
truly, that no man was ever more cautious or more guarded 
in his correspondence. A disposition, from the earUest pe» 
nod of his life, to write in cipher, has already been noticed. 
To this may be added an imwillingness, oa all important 
questions, to commit himself in writing. As soon as he 
entered the political arena, this characteristic was yisible 
even in his letters to Mrs. Burr. On the 14th of Novem- 
ber, 1791, he writes her — " To the subject of politics I can 
at present make no reply. The mode of commtmicdtion 
would not permit^ did no other reason oppose.'' And again, 
December 21st, he says — '^ You will perhaps admire that 1 
cannot leave Congress as well as others. This, if a prob* ^ 
lem, can only be solved at a personal interview^ 

At the commencement of the revolutionary war, the State 
of New-York held an extensive tract of vrild and unimproved 
lands. Sundry laws were passed in the years 1779, 1780, 
1784, 1785, and 1786, providing for their sale and settle- 
ment. A board was created, entitled '^ the Commissioners 
of the Land Ofl^e." It was composed of the governor, the 
secretary of state, the attorney-general, the treasurer, and 
the auditor. The powers conferred by the several acts 
above referred to having been found inadequate to the pro- 
posed object, the legislature, on the 22d of March, 1791, 
have unlimited powers to the commissioners, authorizing 
them to '' dispose of any of the waste and unappropriated 
lands in the state, in such parcels, and on such terms, and in 
such manner as they shall judge most conducive to the in- 
terests of the state." In pursuance of this authority, the 
commissioners sold during the year 1791, by estimate, five 
millions five hundred and forty-two thousand one hundred 


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fel > 

:|^1 Us 


Aged 35.] MEMOIRS OF AAHOir BVKR. 329 ' " ,^^ 

U I 


and seventy acres of waste land, for the sum of one nriljKm *^ t.^ ^xi^ 
and thirty thousand four hundred and thirty-three dollars y ^ ^ t . ^ 
leaving in the possessi<m of the state, yet to be disposed { o> • ^^ 
of, about two millions of acres. Among the sales was one ^ j a i ^ ^ 
to Alexander Macomb, for three millions six hundred and 7 ^ f 
thirty-five thousand two hundred acres. The magnitude erf [^ t '-* ^ ^ 
this sale, and the price at which it was sold, created a great 
excitement throughout the state, aiul at the session of the 
legislature which commenced on the 4th of January, 1792, 
the subject was brought before the assembly. 

The price at which Mr. Macomb made his purchase was 
eight pence per acre, payable in five annual instalments, 
vrithout interest, with permission to discount for prompt 
payment at six per cent, per annum, which made the price 
about equal to seven cents per acre cash. Colonel Burr, a« 
attomey*general, was a member of the board. On the 9th 
of April, 1792, the report of the commissioners being the 
order of the day, the subject was taken up in the bouse. 
Mr. Talbot, from Mcmtgomery coqnty, moved sundry reso* 
hxtions. They were intended as the foundation for an im* 
peachment of a part of the commissioners of the knd office. 
They assumed to contain a statement of facts, evidencing 
on lO^ part of the o^nmissioners great indiscretion and 
want of judgment, if not corruption, in the sale of the public 
lands, and they charged the commissioners with a wilful 
violation of the law. These resolutiwis, however, excepted 
Colonel Burr from any participation in the maleconduct 
complained of, inasmuch as the minutes of the board proved 
that he ivas not present at the meetings (being absent on 
official duty a3 attorney-general) when these contracts, so 
ruinous, a5 they alleged, to the interests of the state, were 
made : nor did it appear that he (Colonel Burr) was ever 
consulted in relation to them. These resolutions eUcited a 
heated debate ; in the progress of which all the ccunmis- 
sioners, except the attorney-general, were assailed with 
great bitterness ; and charges of ccurruption l^y izmuendo 

Vol. L— Tt 


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390 MBM0IR8 OF AARON BURR. [Aged 35. 

were unceremoniously made. At a late hour the house 
adjourned without decision until the next day. 

On the 10th of April, 1792, Mr. Melancton Smith moyed 
the following resolution, with a preamble as a substitute : — 

" Resolv^, That this house do highly approve of the c<mi- 
duct of the commissioners of the land office in the judicious 
sales by them, as aforesaid, which have been productive of 
the before mentioned beneficial effects." 

This resolution was adopted by a vote of ays 35— 
noes 20. 

Of Melancton Smith it is proper to remark here that he 
was a plain, unsophisticated man. A purer patriot never 
lived. Of the powers of his mind some opinion may be 
formed by the following anecdote. Dr. Ledyard, who was 
afterwards health officer of the port of New- York, was a 
warm federalist. He was at Poughkeepsie while the feder- 
al constitution was under discussion in the state convention. 
Smith was an anti-federal member of that body. Some 
lime after the adoption of the constitution, Ledyard stated 
to a friend of his, that to Colonel Alexander Hamilton had 
been assigned, in a special manner, the duty of defending 
that portion of the constitution which related to the judi- 
ciary of the United States; That an outdoor conversation 
between Colonel Hamilton and Mr. Smith took place in 
relation to the judiciary, in the course of which Smith 
urged some of his objections to the prc^osed system. In 
the evening a federal caucus was held; at that caucus Mr. 
Hamilton referred to the conversation, and requested tbat 
some gentleman might be designated to aid in the discus- 
sion of this question. Robert R. Livingston, chancellor of 
the state, was accordingly named. Mr. Livingston was at 
that time a distinguished leader in the ranks of the federal 
party. Whoever will take the trouble to read the debates 
in the Convention, in which will be found the reply of 
Smith to Livingston, will perceive in that reply the efforts 
of a mighty mind. It was a high but merited compliment 


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Aged 35.] MEMOIRS of aaron burr. 331 

to the talents of Melancton Smith, that such a man as 
Colonel Hamilton should have wished aid in opposing him. 

During the winter of 1791-92, being Colonel Burr's first 
session in the Senate of the United States, he spent much 
of his leisure time in the state department. For several 
sessions after the organization of the federal government, all 
the business of the Senate was transacted with closed doors. 
At that period the correspondence of existing ministers was 
kept secret, even from the senators. With every thing con- 
nected with the foreign affairs of the country. Colonel Bvar 
was exceedingly anxious to make himself intimately ac* 
quainted. He considered it necessary to the faithful and 
useful performance of his duty as a senator. He obtained 
permission from Mr. Jefferson, then secretary of state, to 
have access to the records of the department before the 
hour for opening the office arrived. He employed one of 
the messengers to make a fire at fire o'clock in the mornings 
and occasionally an intelligent and confidential clerk to assist 
him in searching for papers. Here he was engaged until 
near ten o'clock every day. It was his constant practice 
to have his breakfast sent to him. He ccmtinued this em* 
ployment the greater part of the session, making notes on^ 
OF extracts from, the records of the department, until hie wais 
interrupted by a peremptory order from the president 
(Washington) prohibiting his farther examination. 

Wishing some information that he had not obtained in 
relation to a surrender of the western posts by the British, 
he addressed a note to the secretary of state, asking per- 
mission to make that particular examination ; to which he 
received the following answer : — 

''Thomas Jefferson presents his respectful c<Hnpliments to 
Colonel Burr, and is sorry to inform him it has been con- 
cluded to be improper to communicate the correspondence 
of existing ministers. He hopes this will, with Colond 
Burr, be his sufficient apology." 

In April, 1792, there was an election for governor of the 


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State of New-York. By some it was supposed that 6ot-» 
^mor Clinton would decline being again considered a can* 
didate. It was known that John Jay would be the candi- 
date of the federal party. At that period Colonel Burr had 
warm personal friends in both parties, who were urgmg his 
pretensions. Among the most ardent was Judge Yates, 
In the latter part of February, 1792, he authorized his 
friends to state that he declined a nomination. He was 
jdacedy however, in an unpleasant dilenmia. The con- 
nexions, and many of the personal friends of Governor 
Clinton, were jealous of Colcmel Burr's talents and growing 
influence. Between the governor and himself there was 
very little intercourse. On the other hand, the kindest 
feelings towards him were evinced by Chief-justice Jay, 
who was a most amiable man. It was his wish, therefore, 
as £ur as practicable, consistent with his principles, to re* 
main neuter. He had never been an electioneering char* 
acter, and with the people he wished to leave the pending 
question, without the exercise c£ any influence he might 
be supposed to possess. 

By the then existing laws of New-York, the ballots that 
were taken in the several counties were, immediately after 
the election, transmitted to the office of the secretary of 
state, and there kept until the secood Tuesday in May, 
vihea the board of canvassers were, by law, to convene 
and canvass them. The electi<m for governor was warmly 
contested; the federal party supporting Judge Jay, the 
anti-federal party George Clinton. When the canvassers 
met, diflhmlties arose as to the legality of the returns from 
certain counties, particularly of Otsego, Tioga, and Clinton. 
The canvassers differing in opinicm on the question whether 
ihe balloto should be counted or destroyed, they agreed to 
ask the advice of Rufus King and Colonel Burr. These 
gentlemen conferred, and, like the canvassers, differed: 
whereupon Mr. Burr proposed that they should decline 
giving advice. To this Mr. King objected, and expressed 


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Aged d6J] ifBMouis of aabon Binut. 883 

a detenmnation to give hit own opinioii separate. This 
rendered it necessary for Colonel Burr to adopt a like pro- 
cedure. He thus became a partisan, and a most efficient 
partisan, in that controversy. 

Seven of the canvassers detennined to reject and destroy 
the ballots alleged to have been illegally returned. To this 
decision four objected. The ballots were accordingly de- 
stroyed, and George Clinton declared to be duly elected 
goTemor. The excitement produced was without a paral- 
lel in the state. The friends of Judge Jay contended that 
he had been chosen by tl^ people, but was cheated out of 
his electicm by the corruption of die canvassers. Great 
asperity and virulence were exhibited by both political pai^ 
ties on the occasion. 

IVom the moment that Colonel Burr was driven to inter- 
fere in the controversy, he took upon himself, almost exclu- 
«ively, the management of the whole case on the side of 
Ae anti-federal party. His accustomed acumen, vigilance^ 
and zeal, were prompdy put in requisition. Full scope 
was allowed fc»r the display ci those great legal talents for 
vdiich he was so pre-eminently distinguished. It has been 
known to only a very few individuals that on Colonel Burr 
rested nearly the whole labour ; and that nothing was done^ 
even by the canvassers, but under his advice and direction. 
It has therefore been deemed proper to insert here some 
of the official details of the case. They are worthy reccnd^ 
as an interesting part of the political history of the State of 

'^ Statement cf the case by the Canvassers^ for the advice 
of Rvfus King and Aaron Burr. 
" Otsego. — By the 26th section of the constitution of the 
State of New-York, it is ordained that sheriffii and caroners 
be annually appointed, and that no person shall be capable 
of holding eidier of the said offices for more than four years 
successively, nor die sheriff of holding any other office at 


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384 1II1I0IR8 OF AARON BURR. [Aged 36. 

the same time. By the ninth section of the act for regula- 
ting elections, it is enacted that one of the inspectors shall 
deUver the ballots and poll-lists, sealed up, to die sheriff of 
the county ; and, by the tenth section of the said act, it is 
further enacted, that each and every sheriff of the respect- 
ive counties in this state shall, upon receiving the said en- 
closures, directed to be deUvered to him as aforesaid, with- 
out opening or inspecting the same, or any or either of 
them, put the said enclosures, and every one of them, into 
one box, which shall be well closed and sealed up by him, 
under his hand and seal, with the name of his county writ- 
ten on the box, and be dehvered by him into the office of 
the secretary of this state, where the same shall be safely 
kept by the secretary or his deputy. By the eleventh sec- 
tion of the said act, all questions arising on the canvass 
and estimate of the votes, or on any of the proceedings 
therein, shall be determined by a majority of the members 
of the joint committee attending ; and their judgment shall 
be final, and the oath of the canvassers requires them faith- 
fully, honestly, and impartially to canvass and estimate 
the votes contained in the boxes delivered into the office of 
the secretary of this state by the sheriffs of the several 

" On the 17th of February, 1791, Richard R. Smith was 
appointed sheriff of the county of Otsego, and his commis- 
sion gives him the custody of that county, until the 18th of 
February, 1792. On the 13th of January, 1792, he writes 
a letter to the Council of Appointment, informing them that) 
as the year for which he was appointed had nearly elapsed, 
he should decline a reappointment. 

" On the 30th of March, 1792, the Council of Appoint- 
ment appointed Benjamin Gilbert to the office of sheriff of 
the said county, with a comn;iission, in the usual form, to 
keep the county until the 17th of February next. His 
commission was delivered to Stephen Van Rensselaer, Esq., 
on the 13th of April last, to be forwarded^ by him to the 


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Aged 36.] iiBicoiRS of aaron bdeiu 335 

said Benjamin Gilbert. By the affidavit of the said Benja* 
min Gilbert, herewith delivered, it appears that he quaUfied 
into the office of sheriff on the 11th day of May, 1792. 
On the first Tuesday in April, 1792, Richard R. Smith 
was elected supervisor of the town of Otsego, in said 
county, and on the first Tuesday in May took his seat at 
the board of supervisors, and assisted in the appointment 
of loan officers for the county of Otsego. By the affidavit 
of Richard R. Smith, herewith delivered, it appears that 
the ballots taken in the county of Otsego were delivered to 
him as sheriff, and by him enclosed in a sufficient box, on 
or about the 3d of May, which box he then delivered into 
the hands of Leonard Goes, a person specially deputed by 
him for the purpose of delivering the said box into the 
hands of the secretary of this state, which was accordingly 
done, as appears by information from the secretary. 

*^ A small bundle of papers, enclosed and sealed, was 
deUvered to the secretary with the box, on which is writ- 
ten, * The votes of the town of Cherry Valley, in the county 
of Otsego. Richard R. Smith, Sheriff.' Several affidavits, 
herewith delivered, state certain facts respecting this sep- 
arate bundle, said to be thpB votes of Cherry Valley. 

" On this case arise the following questions : — 

" 1. Was Richard R. Smith the sheriff of the county of 
Otsego when he received and forwarded the ballots by l^s 
special deputy ? 

** 2. If he was not sheriff, can the votes sent by him be 
legally canvassed ? 

'^3. Can the joint committee canvass the votes when 
sent to them in two parcels, the one contained in a box, 
and the other contained in a paper, or separate bundle ? Or, 

'' 4. Ought they to canvass those sealed in the box, and 
reject the others ? 

" Tioga. — ^It appears that the sheriff of Tioga delivered 
the box containing the ballots to B. Hovey, his special 
deputy, who set out, was taken sick on his journey, and de- 


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B86 Mxifonis of aa&om bose. [^^g^d 36. 

Ihreied the box to H. Thompson^ his clnk, who delhrered 
it into the secretaiy's office. 

** Q^estion. Ought the votes of Tioga to be cinvassed ? 

** Climtoh . — ^It appears that the sheriff of Clinton delir- 
ered the box containing the ballots to Tlieodorus Piatt, Esq., 
who had no depntaticm, but who deliy^ed them into the 
secretary's office, as appears by his affidavit. 

'^ Question. Ou^t the votes of Clinton to be canvassed t" 

Mr. King^s opinion to the Canvassers. 

" OT6BOo.-^It may be inferred, from the constitution and 
laws of the state, that the office of sheriff is held during 
the pleasure of the Council of Appointment, subject to the 
limitation contained in the 26th section of the constitution. 
The sheriff may therefoie hold his office for four years, 
unless within that period a successor ^all have been ap» 
pointed, and shall have entered upon the execution ct the 
office. The term of four years from the appointment of 
R. R. Smith not having expired, and B. Gilbert not having 
entered up<m the execution of the office before the receipt 
and delivay of the votes by R. R. Smith to his deputy, I 
am of opinion that R. R. Smidi was then lawful sheriff of 

** This opinion is strengthened by ^at is understood to be 
practice, namely, that the office of sheriff is frequently held 
for more than a year imder. one appointment. 

" R. R. Smith's giving notice to the Council of Appointment 
of his disinclination to be reappointed, or his acting as su- 
pervisor, cannot, in my opinion, be deemed a resignation or 
surrender of his office. 

" Should doubts, however, be entertain^ whether R. R. 
Smith was lawfully sheriff when he received and delivered 
the votes to his deputy, the case contains facts which in 
another view of the subject are important. It appears that 
R. R. Smith was appointed sheriff of Otsego on the 17th 
of February, 1791, and afterwards ent^:ed upon the exe^ 


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cution of his office : that no other person was in the execu- 
tion of or claimed the office after the date of his appoint- 
ment, and before the time when he received and deUvered 
the votes pf the comity to his deputy ; that during that inter- 
val R. R. Smith was sheriff, or the county was w^^out a 
«henff ; that R. R. Smith, during the election, and when he 
received and delivered the votes to his deputy, continued in 
the actual exercise of the shrievalty, and that under colour of 
a regular appointment. From this statement it may be in<^ 
ferred, that if R. R. Smith, when he received and delivered 
the votes to his deputy, was not de jure^ he was defacto^ 
sheriff of Otsego. 

" Though all the acts of an officer de facto may not be 
valid, and such of them as are merely voluntary and excluo 
sively beneficial to himself are void ; yet such acts as tend 
to the public utility, and such as he would be compellable 
to perform, such as are essential to preserve the rights of 
third persons, and without which they ought be lost gk 
destroyed, when done by an c^cer de/actOy are valid. 

'' I am therefore of opinion, that admitting R. R. Smith, 
when he received and delivered the vcrtes to his deputy, was 
not de jure sheriff yet that he was de facto sheriff; and that 
his receiving and delivering the votes being acts done under 
cdour of authority, tending to the pubUc utiUty, and neces- 
sary to the carrying into effect the rights of suffrage .of the 
citizens of that county, they are and ought to be deemed 
valid ; and consequently the votes of that coun^ may law- 
fully be canvassed. 

'' 2d Question. The preceding answer to the first ques- 
tion renders an answer to the second unnecessary. 

** 3d and 4th Questions. The dieriff is required to put 
into one box every enclomire delivered to him by an in- 
spector appointed for that purpose by the inspectors of any 
town or district ; and for omitting to put any sudi enclosure 
into the box, he is liable to prosecution ; but in case of such 
omission, the votes put into the box, and seasonably deliv 

Vol. I.— Uu 15 


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ered into the secretary's office, may, notwithstanding such 
omission, be lawfully canvassed; and equally so whether 
the omitted enclosure be kept back or sent forward with the 
box to the secretary's office. I am therefore of opinion that 
the votes contained in the box may lawfully be canvassed ; 
that those contained in a separate packet, from considera- 
tions explained in the depositions, and distinct from the ob- 
jection of not being included within the box, cannot be law- 
Cully canvassed. 

" Clinton. — The deputy having no interest in the office 
of sheriff, but being merely the sheriff's servant, it does not 
seem to be necessary that the evidence of his being em- 
ployed or made a deputy should be a deed or an instrument 
in writing, though the latter would be proper ; yet a deputy 
may be made by parole : I am therefore inclined to the 
f^inion that the votes of Clinton may be canvassed. 

" Tioga. — The sheriff is one who executes; an office in 
person or by deputy, so far at least as the office is minis- 
terial ; when a deputy is required of the sheriff conomine, 
he may execute it in person or by deputy ; but if the d^uty 
appoints a, deputy, it may be doubtful whether ordinarily the 
acts of the last deputy are the acts of the sheriff. The pres- 
ent instance is an extreme case ; had the duty been capable 
of being performed within the county, the sheriff or another 
deputy could have performed. Here the deputy, being in 
the execution of his duty, and without the county, is pre- 
vented by the act of God from completing it ; the sheriff 
could not aj^oint, and the deputy undertakes to appoint a 
deputy to finish his duty, who accordingly does so. The 
election law is intended to render effectual the constitutional 
right of suffrage ;. it should therefore be construed liberally, 
and the means should be in subordination to the end. 

" In this case it may be reasonably doubted whether the 
canvassers are obliged to reject the votes of Tioga. 

" RuFus Kino." 


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Aged 36.] iiBMoiRS of aaron burr. 339 

Mr. Surras opinion to the Canvassers, 

" Otsego,— The duration of the office of sheriff in Eng- 
land having been Umited by statute to one year, great in- 
conveniences were experienced, as well by suiters as by the 
pubKc. To remove which it was thought necessary to pass 
an act of parUament. The statute of 12 Ed. IV., ch. I, 
recites at large these inconveniences, and authorizes the 
sheriff to execute and return ^rits in the term of St. Michael^ 
before the delivery of a writ of discharge, notwithstanding 
the expiration of the year. The authority given by this 
statute being to execute only certain specified duties, the 
remedy was not complete, and another statute* was soon 
after passed, permitting sheriffs to do every act pertaining 
to the office, during the term of St. 'Michael and St. Hilary, 
after the expiration of the year, if not sooner discharged* 
The practice in England appears to have been conform- 
able to these statutes,! though the king did pretend to dis- 
pense with them by force of the royal prerogative ; and this 
claim and exercise of a power in the clrown to dispense with 
and control the operation of statutes, has been long and uni- 
versally condemned as odious and imconstitutiopal ; yet the 
form of the commission is said still to be during pleasure. 

^' These considerations tend to show the princi{des of sev- 
eral opinions and adjudications, which are found in English 
law-books, relative to the holding over of the office of sheriff. 

'^ None of the statutes of England or Great Britain contin- 
ued to be laws of this state after the first of May, 1778. So 
that at present there remains no pretence for adopting any 
other than the obvious meaning of the constitution, which 
limits the duration of the office to one year, beyond which 
the authority to hold cannot be derived from the constitution, 

* 17 Ed., ch. 7, more generaL 

t 2 Hawks., 5, 51, Irish oct edit, 2 mod. 261 statute 1 Wm. and Mary, sets. 
2, ch. 2. See also sec 12 of the same statute. 


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the appointment, or the commission. If inconveniences 
arise, remedies can be provided by law onhfy as has in sim- 
ilar cases been done in England, deciding on legal princi- 
ples ; therefore, the appointment and commission, and with 
them the authority of Mr. Smith, must be deemed to have 
expired on the 18th of February. 

" Yet there are instances of offices being exercised by 
perscHis holding under an authorky apparently good, but 
which, on strict legal examination, proves defective ; whose 
acts, nevertheless, are, with somie limit4UumSy ccmsidered as 
valid. This authority is called colourable^ and the officer in 
such cases is said to be an office de facto ; which intends 
to intermediate state between an exercise strictly lawful and 
one without such colour of right. Mr. Smith does not ap« 
pear to me to have holden the office of dieriff on the 9d of 
May under such colour or pretence of right. The term of 
bis office had expired, and he had formally ea^essed his 
determination not to accept a reappointment ; after the ex- 
piration of the year he accepted, and even two days b^ore 
^e receipt of Uie ballots, openly exercised an office incom- 
patible with that of sheriff ; and it is to be inferred, from the 
tenour of the affidavits, that he then knew of the tf^int- 
ment of Mr. Gilbert. The assunq)tion of this authority l^ 
Mr. Smith does not even appear to have been produced by 
any urgent public necessity or imminei^ puUic inconve- 
nience. Mr. GiS)ert was qualified in season to have dis- 
charged the duty, and, for aught that is shown, his attend- 
ance, if really desired, might have been procured still earlier 

^' Upon aQ the circumstances of this case, I am of opin- 

^*1. That Mr. Smith was not sheriff of Otsego when he 
received and forwarded the ballots. 

"2d. That the ballots delivered by the depmty of Mr. 
Smith cannot be legally canvassed. 

" Tlie direction of the law is positive, that the ^leriff shall 
put all the enclosures into one box. How far his inattentioiv 


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Aged 36.] MB1C0IR8 of aarok buer. 341 

or misconduct in this particular shall be deemed to Yitiatd 
the ballots of a county, appears to be left to the judgment of 
the canvassers^ Were the ballots of this county subject to 
no other exception than that stated in the third and fourth 
questions, I should incline to think it one of those cases in 
which the discretion of the canvassers might be safely exer- 
cised, and that the ballots contained in the boxes might be 
legally canvassed ; those in the separate package do not ap- 
pear to be subject to such discretionary power; the law does 
not per^t them to be estimated. But the extent to which 
this power might be exercised in cases similar in kind, but 
varying in degree, caimot be precisely defined. Instances 
may doubtless be supposed, in which sound discretion would 
require that the whole should be rejected. 

" Clinton.— -To tiie questicm relative to Ae ballots of 
this county, it may suffice to say, that verbal and written dep- 
utation by a sheriff are, in law, considered as of equal va- 
lidity, particularly when it is-to perform a single ministerial 

'^ TiooA. — ^It is said that a deputy may make a deputy to 
discharge certain duties merely ministerial ; but, considering 
the importance of the trust in regard of the care of the baU 
lots, and the exiareme circumspection which is indicated in 
the law relative to elections, I think that the ballots of this 
county cannot, by any fiction or constructicm, be said to 
have been delivered by the sheriff; and am of opinion that 
they ought not to be canvassed. 

" Aaron ^urr." 

The opinion of Rufus King in this case was concurred 
in by Stephen Lush, T. V. W, Graham, and Abraham Van 
Yediten, of Albany; Richard Harrison, John Lawrence, 
John Conine, Cornelius J. Bogart, Robert Troup, James M, 
Hughes, and Thomas Cooper, of New-York. 

The opinion of Colonel Burr was sustained by Pierpont 
Sdwards of Connecticut, Jcmathan D. Sergeant, of Phila^ 


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342 MEMOIRS OF AAROif BURR. [Aged 26i 

delphia, Edmund Randolph, of Virginia, United Stales attor- 
ney-general, Zephaniah Swift, Moses Cleaveland, Asher Mil* 
kr, David Daggett, Nathaniel Smith, and Dudley Baldwin* 
These opinions were procured by Colonel Burr, as appears 
from the private correspondence on the subject. 


Philadelphia, 4th May, 1792. 

Dear Sir, 

You will perceive by the date of the enclosed that it has 
been ready some time, but I have waited in herpes that I 
should have the pleasure of sending forward Mr. Randolph's 
opinion in company with mine. As he is not yet quite 
ready, and I am going out of town, I send fcHrward my own 
sin^y. He is very solicitous to collect all possible informa- 
tion on the subject before he gives his opinion, and would 
willingly excuse himself from the task, were it not, as he 
saySf that it would look like a want of that independence 
and firmness which dispose a man to meet any question^ 
however important or strongly contended. 

His opinicHi hitherto has been ccmformaUe to yours, and 
I expect will continue so. When it is ready I will forward 
it without the delay of sending it round to Dr. Edwards's 
in the country. The doctor had spoken to me some time 
before your letter came to me, so that I was nearly prepared 
when I received yours. 

Your obedient servant, 

Jonathan D. Sergeant. 

On the 6th of November, 1792, the legislature met. On 
the 13th, petitions, memorials, &c. were presented to the 
House of Assembly, demanding an inquiry into the conduct 
of the board appointed to canvass the votes given for gov- 
ernor, &c. at the preceding election, held in the n>onth of 
April. On the 21st the house, in committee of the whole, 
took up the subject. Witnesses were examined at the bar ; 


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Aged 86.} MKM0IR8 of aaaon burr. 343 

various resolutions aad modifications were offered and ie-» 
jected. The debate was continued at intervals from the 
21st of November, 1792, until the 18th of July, 1793. The 
minority of the canvassers entered a protest against the 
proceedings of. the majority, which it is due to them to in* 
sert here. 

" The Protest of Messrs. JoneSy Roosevelt^ and Gansevoort, 
. " We, the subscribers, members of the joint committee 
appointed to canvass and estimate the votes taken at the last 
election in this state for governor, lieutenant-governor, and 
senators, do dissent from, and protest against, the determi- 
nation of the major part of said committee respecting the 
votes taken at the said election in the county of Otsego. 

" I. Because these votes having been given by the freehold- 
ers of Otsego, and the packages containing the same having 
been received and transmitted in season to the secretary's 
office by the person acting as sheriff of the county, the com- 
mittee have no right to reject them under the pretence of 
judging of the legality, validity, operation, or extent of the 
sheriff's authority or commission; these commissions being 
foreign to the duty of their appointment, and capable of a 
decision only in the ordinary courts of law. 

**II. Because, if the conunittee were by law authorized to 
examine and determine the legality and extent of the sheriff's 
authority and commission, we are of opinion that Richard 
R. Smith, at the time he received and transmitted the bal- 
lots, was the lawful sheriff of Otsego. By the constitution, 
the sheriff, whatever may be the form of his commission, 
must hold his office during the pleasure of the Council of 
Appointment; and, by the law of the land, he must continue 
therein until another is appointed and takes upon himself* the 
office. Richard R. Smith, having been appointed on the 
27th of February, 1791, and Benjamin Gilbert having been 
appointed on the 30th of March, 1792, but not having qual- 
ified or taken upon himself the office until Richard R, 


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a44 MBitoiRs OF AAEON 8VBB« [Aged 96* 

Smith had received and forwazded the samOy must be deemed 
the lawful sheriff of the county. The nnifcmn practice which 
has prevailed since the establishment of the constitution, pre- 
cludes all doubt respecting its true construction on this 
point. For although the conuniasions of the sherifb aro 
for one year, they have nevertheless continued to exercise 
the office imtil others were appointed and entered upon the 
execution thereof, which has often been long after the expi- 
ration of the year, and sometimes after the same person has 
remained in office more than four years successively. And 
such sheriffs, sometimes after the expiration of their year^ 
at others after having held the office for four successive 
years, have received and transmitted ballots for governor^ 
lieutenant-governor, and senators, which ballots have on for- 
mer elections been received and canvassed ; and even upon 
the present canvass, the committee have canvassed the bal* 
lots taken in the counties of Kings, Orange, and Washing- 
ton, notwithstanding the year had expired for which the 
sheriffs of these counties were commissioned, and no new 
conunissions had been issued. Hence the sheriffs of those 
counties, in receiving and transmitting the ballots, must 
have acted under their former commissions, since a mere 
appointment without a commission, and a compliance with 
the requisites prescribed by law, could not, in our opinion^ 
give any authority as sheriff to the person so appointed. 

"Ill, Because, if Richard R. Smith, at the time he re- 
ceived and forwarded the ballots, was not sheriff, the county 
was without a sheriff, a position too mischievous to be es- 
tablished by a doubtful construction of law. 

"IV. Because, if .Richard R. Smith was not of right 
sheriff of the county at the time he received and forwarded 
the •ballots, he was then sheriff in fact of that county ; and 
all the acts of such an officer which tend to the public utili^ 
ty, or to preserve and render effectual the rights of third 
persons, are valid in law. 

" y . Because, in all doubtful cases, the committee ou^t» 


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Aged 36.] iimotRi or aarok muM. 34S 

in our opinion, to decide in farour of the votes given by ih^ 
citizens, lest by too nice and critical an exposition of the 
law the rights of suffl*age be rendered nugatory, 

^ ** We also dissent from, and protest against, the detenni* 
nation of the major part of the said committee respecting the 
votes taken at the said election in the county of Clinton : 

" Because it appears that the sheriff of the said county 
deputed a person by parole to deliver the box containing the 
ballots of the said county into the secretary's ofl&ce. Such 
deputation we deem to be sufficient ; and as there is satisn 
factory evidence that the box was delivered in the same 
state in which it was received from the sheriff, the votes, in 
our opinion, ought to be canvassed. 

^ We also dissent from, and protest against, the determi-^ 
naticm of the major part of the said committee, by which 
they declare that George Clinton was, by the greatest nunn 
ber ot votes taken at the last election for governor, lieuten-r* 
ant-governor, and senators, chosen governor of this state ; 
and that Pierre Van Courtlandt was, by the greatest numbei? 
of votes at the said election, chosen lieutenant-governor; 
and that John Livingston was, by the greatest number of 
votes at the said election, in the eastern district of this state, 
chosen a senator in the said eastern district. 

"Because it cannot be ascertained whether George Clin- 
ton was chosen governor, or Pierre Van Courtlandt lieuteU'r 
ant-govem<Mr of this state, by the greatest number of votes 
at the last election, without examining the ballots contained 
in the boxes delivered into the secretary's office by the sher-. 
iffs of the counties of Otsego and Clinton — ^there being a 
sufficient number of freeholders in these counties, with the 
votes given in the other parts of the state for John Jay as 
govermnr and Stephen Van Rensselaer as lieutenant-gover- 
nor, to give them a majority of votes for those offices, Nor- 
can it be ascertained whether John Livingston was chosen 
a senator in the eastern district by the greatest number of 
votes in that district, without examining the votes taken in 

Vol. I.— X X 15* 


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346 MBMoiRi OF AAEOif vntK. [Aged 36. 

the county of Clinton — there being a sufficient nrunbo* of 
freeholders in that county, with the votes given in other parts 
of the district for Thomas Jenkins as a senator, to give him 
a greater number of votes for a senator than the number 
given for the said*John Livingston. 

" Samubl JoN£S» 

^' Isaac Roosevblt, 

^' Leonard Gansbvoort.** 

Joshua Sands, another member of the board of canvas* 
sers, entered separately a protest, but substantially the same 
as the preceding. 

The majority of the canvassers {»resented a document to 
the legislature, in which they assigned their reasons for the 
course they had pursued. That document was drawn by 
Colonel Burr. The original draught, with his emendations, 
has been [reserved among his papers. On the motion of a 
member, it was read in the house the 28th day of December, 
1792, and is entered at large on their journals as follows : — 

" The reasons assigned by the majority of the Canvassers 
in vindication of their conduct. 

"The joint committee appointed to canvass and estimate 
the votes for governor, lieutenant-governor, and senators at 
the last election, having been constrained, by a sense of their 
duty in the discharge of the trust reposed in them, to reject 
the ballots returned from the counties of Clinton, Otsego, 
and Tioga ; and perceiving that attempts are made to mis- 
represent as well the principles of their determination as Uie 
facts on which they are founded, feel it incumbent on them 
to state the grounds of their decision. 

"Clinton and Tioga. — ^A box, said to contain the bal- 
lots of the county of Clinton, was deposited in the secreta- 
ry's office by a Theodore Piatt, without any deputaticm or 
other authority, accompanied only by his own affidavit, that 
he had received the said box from the sheriff of Clinton*. 

. Digiti 

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Aged 36.] MBMoiRs aF aaron bvrr. 347 

Another box, said to contain .the ballots of the county of 
Tioga, was delivered by the sheriff of the county <rf Tioga 
to his deputy, Benjamin Hovey, who, being detained by ill- 
ness on the road, delivered the said box to one James H. 
Thompson, by whom it was deposited in the secretary's of- 

" The joint committee, pursuant to the law, are sworn to 
canvass the votes ' contained in the boxes delivered into the 
office of the secretary of the state by the sheriffs of the 
several counties.' Hence arose a question, whether this 
was not a personal trusty which could not be legally per- 
formed by deputy ? Upon this point we entertained differ*- 
ent opinions ; but agreed that, if the discretion of the com- 
mittee was to be in any degree controlled by the directions 
of the law, there appeared no room to doubt of the illegality 
of canvassing boxes which were not delivered by a sheriff 
^ or the deputy of a sheriff. The ballots contained in these 
boxes were therefore rejected ; not, however, without sensi- 
ble regret, as no suspicion was entertained of the fairness 
of those elections 

"Otsbgo. — It appears that Richard R. Smith, on the 
17th pf February, 1791, was appointed sheriff of the county 
of Otsego, to hold that office until the 18th of February, 
1792; that a commission was issued agreeably to that ap*» 
pointment; that on the 13th of January, 1792, he wrote to 
the governor and council that he should decline a reappoints 
ment ; that on the 3(>th of March, 1792, Benjamin Gilbert 
was appointed sheriff of the said county ; that the commis* 
sion to the said Benjamin Gilbert was, on the 13th of April, 
1792, delivered to Stephen Van Rensselaer, one of the 
Council of Appointment, to be by him forwarded ; that the 
said ccMnmission was in the hands of William Cooper, Esq., 
first judge of the said county, on or before the 3d of May t 
that the said Richard R. Smith, on the first Tuesday in 
April, was elected supervisor of the town of Otsego^ ac» 
eepted that office, and on the 1st day of May took bis seat 


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MS MXHOIBB or AAXttV BVBft. [Ag6d 99 

mt the boaid of stqpenrisofBy .assisted ia the appoktmem^ (d 
loan officers, and tAen declared that he was no longer 8h<»iff 
of die county, but that Benjamin Gilbert was appointed in 
his place. It also appeared thai Benjamin Gilbert had no 
notice of his said appointment, or of the receiving of the 
ballots by the said Richard R. Smith, until the 9th day of 
May, and ^t he was sworn to the execution of the office 
on the 11th; that, on the 3d of May, the said Richard R. 
Smidi put up the ballots of the said county in the store of 
the said William Cooper, £sq^ in whose hands the com- 
mission of Benjamin Gilbert then was ; that the box said to 
contain the votes of the said county was delivered into the 
secretary's office by Leonard Goes previous to the la^ 
Tuesday in May, under a deputation fircnn the said Richard 
R. Smith ; together with the said box, and at the same time, 
the said Leonard Goes ddivered a separate packet or en- 
closure, which, by an endorsement thereon, purported to 
contain *the ballots receiyed from the town of Cherry Val- 
ley, in the county of Otsego.' 

" The manner of the delivery of the said box and enclo- 
sure, and the authority of the said Leonard Goes, were re- 
ported to the conunittee by the secretary of the state. 

'^ These votes were not canvassed for the following rea- 
sons: — 

"1. The committee found themselves bound, by their 
oath and by the directions of die law before mentioned, to 
canvass only the votes contained in the boxes which may 
have been dehvered into the secretary*s office by the sher^ 
iffs of the several counties. It appeared to them absurd to 
suppose this duty should be so expressly enjoined, and that 
they should nevertheless be prohibited from inquiring wheth- 
er the boxes were or were not delivered by such officers ; 
or that they should be restrained from ascertaining a fact, 
without the knowledge of which it was impossible that they 
could discharge the duty with certainty to the puUic or with 
Confidence to themselves. They could not persuade them*> 


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Aged 36.] MCifoiRS of aaron buhi^ 349 

seltes that they were, under that law and thcU oath, com- 
pelled to canvass and estimate votes, however fraudulently 
obtained, which should be delivered into the secretary's of- 
fice by any person styling himself sheriff, though it should 
at the same time be evident to them^ that he was not the 
sheriff. If such was to be their conduct, a provision in- 
tended as a security against impositions would be an engine 
to promote them. They conceived, therefore, that the ob- 
jection to an inquiry so important, and in a case where the 
question was raised and the inquiry imposed upon them by 
the suggestions of the secretary, must have arisen from 
gross misrepresentation or wilful error. 

" Upon investigating the right of the said Richard R. 
Smith to exercise that office, the facts appeared as herein^- 
before stated. 

^^ 2. The constitution requires that sheriffs i^all be annu- 
ally appointed; which, to our apprehension, implies that no 
person shall exercise the office by virtue of any other than 
an annual appointment. And should it even be admitted 
that the council may, at their pleasure, remove a sheriff 
within the year, yet we do not see on what ground it can 
be denied that the duration of the office is limited to one 
year, unless a new appointment should take place. It would 
otherwise be true that the council could indirecdy, or by a 
criminal omission, accomplish what is not within theit direct 
or legal authority. It will be readily admitted that an ap- 
pointment and commission for three years would be void; 
and surely the pretence of one thus claiming should be pre- 
ferred to a usurpation without even such appearance of 
right, and against the known right of another. To assert, 
therefore, that *by the constitution the sheriff, whatever may 
be the form of his commission, must hold his office during 
the pleasure of the Council of Appointment ; and that, by the 
law of the land, he must continue therein until another is 
appointed and has taken upon himself the office,' is an as- 
sertion accompanied with no proof or reason, and is repug- 


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350 ^ MSMOiES OF 11 EON BUER. [Aged 26. 

nant to the letter and Bfiiit of the constitution, which is emi- 
nently the law of the land. The practice which has pre- 
vailed since the revolution, as far as hath come to our 
knowledge, does not warrant the positi<Hi; neither could 
mere practice, if such had prevailed, justify the adoption of 
a principle contrary to the obvious meaning of the constitu- 
tion. Upon the present occasicm we have not canvassed the 
votes of any county which were not. returned by a sheriff 
holding his office under an appointment unexpired. The 
sheriffs of Kings, Orange, and Washington had all been re* 
appointed within the present year, which satisfied the words 
of the *constitution, and was the knoum and avowed reason 
which influenced the committee to estimate the ballots of 
those counties. The doctrine concerning the constitutional 
pleasure of the council in the appointment of the office of 
sheriffs had not then been invented. 

** 3. But even admitting the visionary idea that the office 
of sheriff {whose duration is limited by the constitution) 
can nevertheless be holden during the pleasure of the 
Council of Appointment, yet that appears to have been de- 
termined by the letter of the appointment and commission, 
by the appointment of Benjamin Gilbert, by the declaration 
of Richard R. Smith, and by his acceptance and exercise 
of another office, which is, by the constitution, declared to 
be incompatible with the office of sheriff. 

" It was evident, therefore, that Richard R» Smith had 
no authority by appointment, by commission, by the con- 
stitution, or by any law, to hold or exercise the office of 
sheriff on the third of May. 

" 4. As Richard R. Smith was not legally or constitu- 
tionally sheriff on the third of May, neither, under the cir- 
cumstances of the case, can he be said to have been sheriff 
in fact, so as to render his acts valid in contemplation of 
law: the assxunption of power by Mr. Smith appears to 
have been warranted by no pretence or colour of right. 
The time limited for the duration of his office had espired 


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Aged d6.] MiMoiES OP aaeon bubs. 351 

by the express- tenure of bis commissuHi and ajqpointment, 
and he had formally declared his determination not to ac- 
cept a reappointment. He had, two days prerions to his 
receiving the ballots, openly exercised an office incompatiUe 
"With that of sheriff; then declared that he had resigned the 
office of sheriff, and that Benjamin Gilbert was appointed 
in his place; and by an affidavit which was produced to 
the committee, it ajqpeared that, upon the day upon which 
he had put up the ballots in the house of the said William 
Cooper, he, the said Richard R. Smith, declared that he 
had resigned the office of sheriff. The business might 
with equal care and certainty have been executed by Ben- 
jamin Gilbert. The single act of receiving ballots could 
of itself continue no man a sheriff — ^least of all a man dis- 
avowing that office^ and then in the exercise of another. It 
was foreign to the duty of the committee to provide against 
evils which may possibly arise from casual vacancies in 
the office of sheriff by death and otherwise. Vacancies 
will sometimes unavoidably happen, without further legis- 
lative provision. 

*^ There is not, therefore, in our opinion, any application 
to the subject, or force in the objection, * that if Richard R. 
Smidi was not sheriff, the county was without a sheriff;' 
neither is the position true in fact, for it appears that the 
county was not then without a sheriff. At the time the bal- 
lots were received, it was well known that Benjamin Gil- 
bert was appointed sheriff, and that his commission was in 
the hands of William Cooper^ in whose store Richard R. 
Smith put up the ballots. It is also to be fairly inferred 
that, had proper measures been taken to give notice to Mr. 
Gilbert, he would forthvirith have qualified and undertaken 
the execution of the office. It cannot, therefore, consistent 
with truth or candour, be asserted that there was the remo- 
test probability that ^ mischiefs' could in any parallel case 
ensue from the principles adopted by the committee. 
** It did not seem possible, therefore, by any principle of 


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362 MBMOIRS OP AAEOK luw. [Aged 86. 

law, by any latitude of contraction, to canvass and eeti- 
mate the ballots contained in the box thus circumstanced. 

^' But, had the question been doubtful, it was attended 
by other circumstances, which would have determined the 
committee against canvassing those ballots. 

*' 5. Because the notice of the appointment of Benjamin 
Gilbert was received by Richard R. Smith on or before 
the first of May, and his commission was received by Will- 
iun Cooper on or before the third of May. Mr. Gilbert 
might therefore have been notified, qualified, and execu- 
ted the duty. He did actually qualify on the eleventh, 
which gave ample time to have forwarded the ballots be- 
fore the last Tuesday in May. These facts, with other 
suggestions of unfair practices, rendered the conduct of the 
Otsego election justly Uable to suspicion; and the com* 
mittee were constrained to conclude that the usurpation ol 
authority by Richard R. Smith was wantcm and unneces* 
sary, and proceeded from no motive connected with the pres- 
ervation of the rights of the people or the freedom and 
purity of elections. 

** 6. Because, having in several instances, by unanimous 
vote, rejected ballots of whole towns, free firom any suspi- 
cion of unfairness, by reason of a defect in form only of 
the return, the committee conceived themselves the more 
strongly bound to reject ballots where the defect was sub- 
stantial, and the conduct at least questionable; especially 
as the law regards the custody of enclosures containing the 
ballots as a trust of high importance, and contemplates but 
three persons in vrfiose hands they are to be confided until 
they come to the possession of the canvassers, to wit, the 
inspector, the sheriff, and the secretary; all officers of 
great responsibility and confidence. 

** 7. Because the return, upon the face of it, appeared to 
be illegal. The law requires the sheriff, 'upon receiving 
the said enclosure, directed to be delivered to him as afwre- 
said, without opening or inspecting the same, or any or 


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Aged 36.] KEHoiRS of aarok bure. 853 

either of them, to put the said enclosures, and every one of 
theniy into one box, which shall be well closed, &c., and be 
delivered by him, without opening the same, or the enclo- 
sures therein contained, into the office of the secretary of 
this state before the last Tuesday in May in every year.' 

" By recurring to the preceding state of facts it will be 
evident that this direction of the law had been disregarded. 
If irregularities of this kind should be permitted and coun- 
tenanced, it would be in the power of the sherifif, by exclu- 
ding a part of the votes, to confer a majority on any candi- 
date, in counties where there were divisions of interests. 
Affidavits were indeed produced tending- to show that there 
had been, in that town, disputes respecting the election of 
town officers ; that two enclosures, purporting to contain the 
votes of the town, were delivered to Mr. Smith, and that he 
had put into the box that enclosure which contained the 
votes taken by the persons whom he judged to be tfee legal 
inspectors : a matter proper to have been submitted to the 
opinion of the committee. 

'^ The committee have considered this subject with de- 
liberate attention, and in every light in which it could be 
placed", and whether tliey regarded the channels of convey- 
ance, the mode of the return, or the general principles which 
ought to govern their decisions touching the freedom of 
elections and security against frauds, they found undeniable 
reasons which compelled them to reject the votes. 

** David Gelston, 
"Thomas Tillotson 
'^Daniel Graham, 
" Melancton Smith, 
" David M'Carty, 

" P. V. COURTLANDT, jim., 

"Jonathan N. Havens." 

On the 18thof Jfie!iuary, 1793, the House of Assembly passed 
the following resolutions on the subject. " Thereupon, jRe- 

VoL. L— Yy 


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354 MiMoiRs OF AAEON BURR. [Aged 36. 

sdvedy That the mode of prosecuting any joint committee of 
the Senate and Assembly, appointed for the purpose of can- 
vassing and estimating the votes taken in this state for gover- 
nor, lieutenant-governor, and senators, and the penalties to 
be inflicted on such committee, or any of them, for any im- 
proper conduct in the execution of the trust reposed in them 
by law, are clearly pointed out in the twentieth and twenty- 
first sections of the act for regulating elections, passed the 
13th day of February, one thousand seven hundred and 
eighty-seven ; and that, therefore, any person or persons who 
may suppose that any such joint committee, or any of them 
have conducted themselves improperly in the execution of 
the trust reposed in them, may prosecute the same to effect 
in the ordinary course of law. 

" Resolved, That notwithstanding this provision in the act 
for regulating elections, this house hath gone into an in- 
quiry with respect to the conduct of the late conmiittee ap- 
pointed to canvass and estimate the votes for governor, 
lieutenant-governor, and senators, taken at the last general 
election held in this state, to the intent that satisfaction may 
be given those citizens of the state who have been dissatis- 
fied with the decision of the major part of the said commit- 
tee, with respect to the votes taken in the counties of Otse- 
go, Tioga, and Clinton. 

'^ Resolved, That after a full and fair examination into the 
conduct of the major part of the said canvassing committee, 
it does not appear to this house that the said major part 
of the committee, to wit : David Gelston, Thomas Tillotson, 
Daniel Graham, Melancton Smith, David M*Carty, Pierre 
Van Courtlandt, junior, and Jonathan N. Havens, have been 
guilty of any mal or corrupt conduct in the execution of the 
trust reposed in them by law. 

" And whereas, by the eleventh section of the act for reg- 
ulating elections, it is enacted that all questions which jshall 
arise upon any canvass and estimate, or* upon any of the 
proceedings therein, shall be determined according to the 


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Aged 36.] MEMOIRS of aaron bitrr. 355 

opinion of the major part of the said canvassing committee, 
and that their judgment and determination shall in all cases 
be binding and conclusive ; therefore, 

" Resolved, As the sense of this house, that the legisla- 
ture cannot annul or make void any of the determinations of 
the said Ccanmittee." ^ 

The question was taken on the preceding resolutions to- 
gether, by yeas and nays, and passed in the affirmative. 
Ays 35. Nays 22. 

Among the individuals for whom Colonel Burr entertained 
a high degree of respect, was Jacob De Lamater, Esq., of 
Marbletown. Between these gentlemen, for several years, 
a^iendly, and, in some instances, a confidential correspond- 
ence existed. Mr. De Lamater was a federalist, but per- 
sonally attached to Colonel Burr. In 1792 he was among 
those who wished him to become a candidate for the office 
of governor. After the death of De Lamater, the letters 
addressed to him . by Colonel Burr were returned. They 
were written under the sacred seal of friendship ; but they 
contain not a sentence, not a word, that is not alike honour- 
able to his head and his heart. One is selected and here 
published as explanatory of his feelings and his conduct in 
the contested election (wliich so much agitated the State of 
New-York) between George Cliaton and John Jay. It re- 
quires no comment. 


New-York, 15th June, 1792. 

My pear Sir, 
You will, before this can reach you, have heard of the 
event of the late election. Some questions having arisen 
among the canvassers respecting the returns from Clinton, 
Otsego, and Tioga, they requested the advice of Mr. King 
and myself. We conferred, and, unfortunately, diflFered ; par- 
ticularly as to the questions upon the Otsego return. I 
therefore proposed thitt we should decUne giving any opin- 


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, 356 MiMoiES OF AARON BURS. [Aged 36. 

ion, being for my own part much averse to interfere in the 
business. Mr. King, however, determined to give his sep* 
arate opinion, firom what motives you may judge. This laid 
me under the necessity of giving mine also, which I did. If 
I can procure copies of both opinions, and of the protest of 
the minority, and* the reasons assigned by the miajority of 
the canvassers, I will send them herewith. They will ena- 
ble you to f(»rm a competent judgment of the law question, 
and of the fairness of the Otsego return. 

I do not see how any unbiased man can doubt, but still I 
do not pretend to control the opini(xi of others, much less 
to take offence at any man f(»r differing firom me. The 
reasims contained in my opinion, and assigned by the ma^ 
jority of the canvassers, have never been answered except 
by abuse. I can, in a personal interview, inform you c{ 
some circumstances relative to the opinions which have 
been procured in favour of the Otsego votes. 

I have heard with much pride and pleasure of the warm 
and disinterested manner in which I was espoused by some 
respectable characters in your county. I shall never fail to 
recollect it with sensibility and gratitude. It would there- 
fore give me real pain to believe that any part of my conduct 
had tended to thwart their wishes. If it has had any such 
effect, it shotdd at least be remembered that I did not seek 
to gratify any wish or interest of my own. I took no part 
in the election. I never gave to any person the most dis- 
tant intimation that I supposed you engaged to support 
Mr. Clinton, or to take any other part than that which your 
inclinations and judgment should direct. I felt no disposi- 
tion to influence your conduct on that occasion. Had I been 
so indined, I have no doubt but I could, in various parts of 
the state, have essentially injured Mr. Jay's interest ; but I 
made no attempt of the kind. Yet I shall never yield up 
the right of expressing my opinions. I have never exacted 
that tribute firom another. 

Upon the late occasion, indeed, I earnestly ¥ashed and 


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Aged 36.] MtMoima ov aaron burs. 857 

sought to be relieved from the necessity of giving any opin- 
ion, particularly from a knowledge that it yrould^ be disa- 
greeable to you and a few others whom I respect and 
wish always to gratify. But the conduct of Mr. King left 
me no alternative. I was obliged to give an opinion^ and I 
have not yet learned to give any other than which my judg- 
ment directs. 

It would, indeed, be the extreme of weakness in me to* 
expect friendship from Mr. Clinton. I have too many rea^ 
sons to believe that he regards me with jealousy and ma- 
levolence. Still, this alone ought not to have induced me to 
refuse my advice to the <»nva88ers. Some pretend, indeed, 
but none can believe, that I am prejudiced in his favour. I 
have not even seen or spoken to him since January last. 

I wish to merit the flattering things you say of my talents ; 
but your expressions of esteem and regard are still more flat- 
tering, and these, I am sure, I shall never fail to merit, if 
the warmest friendship and unalterable attachment can give 
me a claim. 

Will you be abroad any, and what part of the smnmer ? 
I ask, because I propose to make you a visit on my way to, 
or return from, Albany, and vnsh to be certain of finding you 
at home. No political changes can ever diminish the pleas- 
ure vrith which I subscribe myself 

Your affecticmate friend, 

A. BiTRR. 

The following letter is evidence of Colonel Burr's pro- 
pensity to correspond in cipher with his most intimate 
friends, even on unimportant topics. Hundreds of ihe same 
character might be given. 


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358 JiBMoiKS OP AARON BI7KR. [Aged 36. 


Sew-Yotk, October 30th, 1792. 

Dbar Sir, 
Your letter by Mr. Addison was particularly kind, after 
my long supposed silence. We may make use of both keys 
or dphersy and if some of the persons or things are desig- 
nated by different characters, no inconvenience will arise ; if 
there should, we will correct it. 

V is to be the candidate, as my former letter will have 
told you« He has the wishes of 9 for his success, for rea- 
sons which will be obvious to you. Do you think that 8 
would be induced from any motive to vote for him ? 

Yours affectionately, 

A. Burr. 


On the 2d of October, 1792, Governor Clinton nominated 
Colonel Burr to the Council of Appointment as Judge of the 
Supreme Court of the state, which nomination was immedi- 
ately confirmed. Thus, within the short space of about 
three years, he was appointed by the democratic party to 
the several important stations of Attorney-General, Senator 
of the United States, and Judge of the Supreme Court. 
The last appointment was made without consulting Mr. 
Burr. As soon as he was notified of the fact, he informed 
the governor of his non-acceptance ; yet so anxious was his 
excellency, and so strong were liis hopes that Colonel Burr 
might be induced to withdraw liis resignation, that he 
refused to lay it before the council until the legislature, on 
the 7th of December, adopted the following resolution — 

" Whereas it appears to the legislature, by the records of 


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Aged 36.] MEMOIRS of aaron burr. 359 

the Council of Appointment, that Aaron Burr, Esq., one of 
the senators for this state in the Senate of the United States, 
was, on the 2d day of October last, apjwinted one of the 
puisne justices of the Supreme Court of Judicature of this 
state : Thereupon, 

" Resolved (if the honourable the Senate concur herein), 
That his excellency the governor be and hereby is requested 
to inform the legislature whether the said Aaron Burr hath 
accepted or refused the said office." 

On the 24th of October, 1791, Congress convened, and 
Colonel Burr took his seat in the Senate of the United 
States. In those days it was the practice of the president, 
accompanied by the heads of departments, to proceed to 
Congress Hall for the purpose of meeting the two branches 
of the national legislature, and opening the session with a 
speech, to which a response was made by each body separ- 
ately. On the 25th the president made his annual com- 
munication; whereupon the Senate " Ordered, That Messrs. 
Burr, Cabot, and Johnston be a committee to prepare and re- 
port the draught of an address to the President of the United 
States, in answer to his speech, delivered this day to both 
houses of Congress in the Senate Chamber." 

The next day Colonel Burr, as chairman of the commit- 
tee, draughted and reported an answer, which was adqpted by 
the Senate without alteration or amendmeiii; : an occurrence, 
it is believed, that happened in only two other instances 
during the period that speeches were delivered by the ex- 
ecutive. After the election of Mr. Jefferson the system of 
sending messages was substituted. 

The journals of the Senate afford ample evidence that 
Colonel Burr was an industrious and efficient member of 
that body. During the first session of his term of service 
he was placed on numerous committees, some of them im- 
portant, and generally as chairman. His business habits 
soon became evident, and were called into operation. His 
character for firmness was well established before he took 


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360 MSifoiRS OF AARON BURR. [Aged 36. 

his seat in the Senate ; but on the 9th of January, 1794, it 
was displayed with effect. In consequence of a difference 
between the two houses, a bill to increase the standing army 
was lost. 

Mr. King, of New-York, by consent, introduced a new 
bill ; it was entitled " An act for the more effectual protec- 
tion of the southwestern frontier settlers.** Unsuccessful 
efforts were made by Colonel Burr and others to amend it, 
by striking out some of its most odious features ; but there 
was a decided majority, as it was known to be an adminis- 
tration measure, determined on carrying it through. The 
bill was ordered to be engrossed for a third reading, and 
the question on its passage was to be taken on the last day 
of the session. By the rules of the Senate, the question 
could not be put if any member objected. Colonel Burr 
objected, and the bill was thus defeated. 

Notwithstanding his pubUc engagements. Colonel Burros 
mind was constantly employed with the education of his 
daughter. Mrs. Burr's health was gradually declining, 
insomuch that she was unable, at times, to attend to her 
domestic concerns. This to him was a source of unceas- 
ing care and apprejiension. His letters to his daughter are 
numerous. They are frequently playful, always interesting, 
displaying the solicitude of an affecticmate father anxious 
for the improvement of his child. 


Philadelphia^ 18th Januaiy* 1793. 
By the enclosed to Mr. Gurney,* I have requested him 
to vmte me a letter respecting the health of die family, and 
Theo.'s improvement. Request him to enclose, on a sep- 
arate sheet, some columns of figures, pounds, shillings, and 
pence. I shall show the letter and enclosure as a speci- 
men of his talents to some persons to whom I wish to 

* Theodotia*ft preceptor. 


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Aged 87.] MSMoittff 09 aaroh vctA. 

Tecommend bim. Beg him to use no iraceaiiiioii Wold or 
exjpr&mon. He wiU pafdon this piece of adiice wh«ft lie 
i^collects that I know so much better thait he doe» whtft 
will suit the persons to whom it iti to be shown. If he 
should oflFer his letter for your perusal before he sends it, 
remark freely ; it will be a kindness of which no one is so 

Should this come to hand after he has given his lesson 
on Saturday, send Urn his lettor, and request him tb call 
on you, tf you should be able to bear fire minutec^ convex* 
satton with him. 

I wrote you yesterday, ai*d hare nothing to add respect- 
ing myself; aiMt only a repetition of my prayers for yoQf 
with my most affectionate and antious wishes. 

A. BokA« 


Fhfladelphis; SO^F^^bitntf, ftVSL 

Ym may recollect &at I feft a mem<m«dum' ol i^fiM 
Theo. was to learn. I h^ k bafr been strict^ atlekidiMt 
fKy. Desure Chimey not to attempt la teach her any thti^ 
dlkmt &e ^ecmcords.*^ I wifi riiew him how I eboose diar 
should be done vAktml letum, wMeh^ I diank God, is bur 
three weeks distant. 

li is eij^t days smce I kft home^ and I faa^e not a w^ 
from any one gf iSle faimly, noi' even about .anjr aael of 
them. I hare been out but once, half an hom al Mrs. P.'s,. 
a concert ; butrl call often at Mrs. L.'s. I a^ mcnre an^ 
more stiruck with the natire good sense of one of that &m- ) 
ily, and more and more disgusted witli the manner in whidi 
it is obscured and perrerted : cursed effects of feshicmablei 
edircation I of which both sexes are the adrocates,^ andf^ 
^ t . yours eminently the victims. If I could fiMPesee that Theo, 
/ 1 would become a mere &^onaUe woman, with aS- the 
^1 \ attendant firirolity and vacuity of mind, adorned with idutl^ 

erer grace and allurement; I would eamestfy^ pray God to^ / i 
rdv Vol. L— Z z 16 


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^/ *^ d^ MSMoiKs OF AARON Binui. [Aged 3T« 


take her forthwith hence. But I yet hope, by her, to con- 
^ ^ YiDce the world what neither sex appear to beliere — that 
women have souls ! 

. . Most a£fectionately yoiurs, 



Pkibdelpfak, Uih Ftiknmj, ITM. 

I received with joy and astonishment^ on entering the 
Senate this minute, your two elegant and affectionate let* 
ters. The mail closes in a few minutes, and will scarce 
allow me to acknowledge your goodness. The roads and 
ferries have been for some days almost impassable, so that 
till now no post has arrived since Monday. . . 

It was a knowledge of your mind which first inspired me 
with a respect for that of your sex, and with some regret, I 
confess, that the ideas which you have often heard me ex- 
press in favour of female intellectual powers are founded 
on what I have imagined, more than what I have seen, ex- 
cept in you. I have endeavoured to trace the causes of this 
rare display of geni9S in women, and find them in the errors 
of education, of i»r^judiee, and of habit. I admit that men 
are equally, nay more, much more to blame than women.^ 
Boys and girls are generally educated mudi in the same*; 
way till they are: eight or nine years of age, and it is admit- 
ted that girls make at least equal progress with the boyi ; 
gener^y, indeed, they make better. Why, then, has it 
never been thought worth die attempt to discover, by fair 
experiment, the particular age at which the male superiority 
becomes so evident ? But this is not in answer to your let- 
ter ; neither is it possible now to answer it. Some parts 
of it I shall never answer*^ Your allusions to departed an- 
gels I thin^ in bad taste. 

I do not like Tbeo.'s indolence, or the apologies which 
are made for it. Have my directions been pursued vrith 
regard to her Latin and geography? 


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Aged 37 J MiMoiRs or AA^ROK Binut. d63 


Your plan and embellishment of my mode of life are 
fanciful, are flattering, and inviting. We will endeavour to 
realize some of it. Pray continue to write, if you can do 
it with impunity. I bless Sir J., who, widi the assistance 
of Heaven, has thus far restor^ you. 

In the course of this scrawl I have been severd timeis 
called to vote, which must apol(^ze to you for its incohe- 
rence. Adieu. A. Bitrr. 


Philadelphis, IGth February, 1793. 

A line of recollection will, I am sure, be more acceptable 
than 'silence. I consider myself as largely in your debt, 
and shall of necessity remain so. 

You have heard me speak of a Miss Woolstonecraft, who 
has written something on the French revolution; she has 
also vnritten a book entitled " Vindicatton of the rights of 
WomanP I had heard it spoken of with a coldness Uttl^ 
calculated to excite attention ; but as I read with avidity and 
prepossession every thing written by a lady, I made haste 
to procure it, and spent the last night, almost the whole of 
it, in reading it. Be assured that your sex has in her an 
able advocate. It is, in my opinion, a work of genius. She 
lias successfully adopted the style of Rousseau's Emilius ; 
and her comment on that work, especially what relates 't6 
female education, contains more good sense than all the 
other criticisms upon him which I have seen put together. 
I promise myself much pleasure in reading it to* you. 

Is it owing to ignorance or prejudice that I have Hot yet 
met a single person who had discovered or would allow the 
merit of this work ? 

Three mails are in arrear ; that of Tuesday is the last 
which has arrived. I am impatient to know how vnriting 
agrees with you. Pray let me hear, firom day to day» the 
progress of your cure. 

Most affiscticmately yotiirs, 

A. BlJRR« 


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M4 xmoims ov aakov wbb. [Aged ST. 


Just what I apprehendedy I find, has taken place. Three 
sheets were too much for a first attempt. It will, I fear, 
discourage you, if not disable you firom more moderate ex- 
periments. Yet I will hojpe to receire by this day's mail at 
least one Kne, announcing your progressive recovery, under 
your own hand. 

Be assured that, after what you have written, I shall not 
send for Gumey. Deliver him the enclosed. I hope it 
may animate his attention; and tell him, if you think proper, 
that I shall be much dissatisfied if Theo.'s progress in Lain 
be not very considerable at my return. Geography has, I 
hope, been abandoned, for he has no talent at teaching it. 
* The close of a session being always crowded with busi» 
ttess^ keeps me much engaged. You must eipect short lew 
tfiri wmm notes. Adieu. 

A* Bmuu 

TO ns MUOKTB& THBononA. 

phflaaelplm, SODi FobTMnr, 1 W. 

At kngth, my dear Theo., I have received youx letter of 
the SOlh of January<-^written, you see, a mcmdi ago. But 
I observe that it was not put into the postoffice until the 
day befcNre yesterday. I suppose Frederick or Baitow had 
carelessly put it in some place where it had lain forgotten. 
It would indeed have been a pi^ that such a letter should 
have been hst. There is something in the style and ar- 
rangement of the words which would have done honour to a 
girl of sixteen. 

All three of the Miss A.s will visit New-York next sum- 
mer, and pass some weeks ttiere. I hope to be at home in 
ten or twelve days firom this time. I^et me receive one or 
two more letters firom you, even if you are obliged to mg* 
lect a lesson to find time to write them. 


ized by Google 

Aged 37.] MKM0IR8 of aarom bure. 366 

Alexis* often bids me to send you some polite and re- 
spectful message on his part, which I have heretofore omit- 
ted He is a faithful, good boy. Upon our return home he 
hopes you will teach him to read. 

I am, my dear Theo., 

Your affectionate papa, 

A. Burr. 


Philadelphia, 24th Fabnuiy, 1793. 

My dbar Thro., 

In looking over a list made yesterday (and now before 
me), of letters of consequence to be answered immediately, 
I find the ,name of T. B. Burr. At the time I made the 
memorandum I did not advert to the compliment I paid you 
by putting your name in a list with some of the most emi- 
nent persons in the United States. So true is it that your 
letters are really of consequence to me, I now allude to 
that of the 19th instant, covering a lable and riddle. If the 
whole performance was your own, which I am inclined to 
hope and believe, it indicates an improvement in style, in 
knowledge of the French, and in your handwriting. I have 
therefore not only read it several times, but shown it to sev- 
eral persons with pride and pleasure. 

I confess myself unable to solve your riddle, unless the 
teeth or the alphabet (generally supposed to be twenty-four 
in each) will give the solution. But I have not yet had an 
opportunity to consult Miss P. A. To-morrow I shall call 
on her for the purpose, and will not fail to inform you of her 
conjectures on the subject. 

Your affectionate papa, 

A. Burr. 

* A cdlouvad bof . 


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866 MXMoiRS OP ajlrou buer. [Aged sf. 


Philadelphia, 16tb Deeember, 1793. 

I have a thousand questions to ask, my dear Theo^ but 
nothing to communicate ; and thus I fear it will be through- 
out the winter, for my time is consumed in the dull uniform- 
ity of study and attendance in Senate; but every hour of- 
^^ ^ C- y^^^ ^^y ^* interesting to me. I would give, what would I 
Jy ^ ' not give to see or know even your most trifling actions and 
^ \ amusements ? This, however, is more than I can ask or 

!i ^ I expect. But I do expect with impatience your journal. 

Ten minutes every evening I demand ; if you should choose 
to make it twenty, I shall be the better pleased. You are 
to note the occurrences of the day as condsely as you can ; 
and, at your pleasure, to add any short reflections or re- 
marks that may arise. On the other leaf I give you a sam- 
ple of the manner of your journal for one day. 

ISth December. 

I began this letter at the date which you see, bemg Mon- 
day last — ^was interrupted, and the mail closed. Yesterday 
I was confined with a severe headache, owing, I beheve, to 
a change from an active to a sedentary life without a cor- 
responding change in diet. 

A week and more has elapsed ^ince I left home, and not 
a line from you ; not even the Sunday letter. Observe, that 
the journal is to be soat to me enclosed in a letter every 
Monday morning. 

Plan of the Journal. 

lOth Deeember, I7V3. 

Learned 230 lines, which finished Horace. Heigh-ho for 
* I Terence and the Greek grammar to-morrow. 

] ! Practised two hours less thirty-five minutes, which I 
4-' 1 begged off. 
"^^ ^ Hewlett (dancing-master) did not come. 


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Aged 37.] MEMOIRS or aaro^ burr. 367 

Began Gibbon last evening. I find he requires as much \ 

study and attention as Horace ; so I shall not rank the read- | 

ing of him among amusements. i 

Skated an hour ; fell twenty times, and find^e advantage ) 

of a hard head and j 

Ma better — dined with us at table, and is stiU sitting up / 

and free from pain. j 

Your afTectionate papa, 

A. Burr. 


Philadelphia, 24th December, 1793. 

Since being at this place I have had several conversations 
with Dr. Rush respecting your distressing illness, and I have 
reason to believe that he has given the subject some reflec- 
tion. He has this evening called on me, and given me as 
his advice that you should take hemlock. He says that, in 
the way in which it is usually prepared, you should com- 
mence with a dose of one tenth of a grain, afid increase as 
you may find you can bear it ; that it has the narcotic pow- 
ers of opium, superadded to other qualities. When the dose 
is too great, it may be discovered by a vertigo or giddiness ; 
and that he has known it to work wonderfiil cures. I was 
the more pleased with this advice, as I had not told him that 
you had been in the use of this medicine ; the concurrence 
of his opinion gives me great faith in it. God grant that it 
may restore your health, and to your a£fectionate 

A. Burr. 


Philadelphia, 25th Deoemher, 17B8. 

The letter, my dear Theo., which (I have no doubt) you 
wrote me last Sunday, has not yet come to hand. Am I to 
blame Strong? or the postmaster? or whom? 

When you have finished a letter, read it carefully over, and 
conect all the errors you can discover. In your last there 


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r ^i ■ \ ''^ ■ 


k* "- T ^ 

v^ ^- 


^reare »oiiie which could not, upon an attentiye perusal, have 
escaped your notice, as yoU shall see when we meet. 

I have asked you a great many questions, to which I hare 
as yet no answers. When you sit down to write to me, or 
when you set about it, be it sitting or standing, peruse aU 
my letters, and leave nothing unanswered. Adieu. 

A. Burr. 


Philadelphia, 3l8t December, 1793. 

I received your letter and joums^l yesterday in the Senate 
Chamber, just before the closing of the mail, so that I had 
imly time to acknowledge it by a hasty line. You see I 
never let your letters remain a day unanswered, in which 
I wish you would imitate me. Your last had no date ; from 
the last date in the journal, and your writing about Christ* 
mas holydays as yet at some distance, I suppose you wrote 
about Sunday the 22d. Nine days ago ! I beg you again 
to read over all my letters, and to let me see by your answers 
that you attend to them. I suspect your last journal was 
not written firom day to day ; but all on one, or at most two 
. days, from memory. How is this ? Ten or fifteen minutes 
\^/ I every evening would not be an unreasonable sacrifice from 
ycm to fM, If you took the Christmas holydays, I assent : 
\\ tf you did not, we cannot recall the time. This is all the 

\ answer which that part of your letter now admits of. 

It is said thi^ some few yet die of the yellow fever which 
\J lately raged here ; but the disorder does not appear to be, at 
presenty in any degree contagious ; what may be the case 
upon the return of warm weather, is a subject of anxious con- 
jei^ttre and apprehension. It is probable that the session of 
Congress will ccmtinue into &e summer. 

Give a place to your mamma's health in your joumaL 
Omit the formal conclusion of your letters, and vmte yooi^ 
name in a larger hand. I am just going to Senate, where I 
kope to meet a letter from you, with a continuatioii of yoai 


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Aged 37.] HXMOtts of aajlom bves^ 

journal down to the 29th inclusire, which, if it gives a good 
account of you and mammae will gladden the heart of 

A. Burr. 


PhiliMtelphia, 31tt Deconbcr, 17S3. 

This day's mail has brought me nothing from you. I 
have but two letters in three, almost four weeks, and the 
journal is t^i days in arrear. What-*can neither affection 
nor ciyility induce you to devote to me the small portion of 
time which I have required ? Are authority and compulsion 
then the only engines by which you can be moved 1 For 
shame, Theo. ! Do not give me reason to think so ill of 

I wrote you this morning, and h|ive nothing to add but 
the repetition of my warmest affection. 

A. Burr* 



Philadelphia, 4Kh Juxauy, 1794. 

At the moment of closing the mail yesterday, I received 
your letter enclosing the pills. I cannot refer to it by date, 
as it has none. Tell me truly, did you write it without as- 
sistance ? Is the language and spelling your own ? If so^ 
it does you much hcmour. The subject of it obliged me to. 
show it to Dr. Rush, which I did with great pride. He in* 
quired your age half a dozen times, and paid some handsome 
compliments to the handwriting, the style, and the conect- 
ness of your letter. 

The account of your mamma's health distresses me ex- 
tremely. U she does not get better soon, I will quit Con- 
gress altogether and go home. Doctor Rush says that the 
jnlls contain two grains each of pure and firesh extract of 
hemlock; that the dote is not too large if the stomach aad 
head can bear it; that he has known twenty grains given i^ 
a dose with good effect. To determine, however, whether 

VoL.1.— Aaa 16* 


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370 mifOiRs OF AARON BURR. lA.god 3^. 

this medicine has any agency in causing the sick stomach, 
he thinks it would be well to take an occasion of omitting it 
for a day or two, if Doctor Bard should approve of such an 
experiment, and entertains any doubts about the effects of 
the pills on the stomach. Some further conversation which 
I have had vnth Doctor Rush vnll be contained in a letter 
which I shall write by this post to Doctor Bard. 

My last letter to you was almost an angry one, at which 
you cannot be much surprised when you recollect the length 
of time of your silence, and that you are my only corre- 
spondent respecting the concerns of the family. I expect, 
on Monday or Tuesday next, to receive the continuation of 
your journal for the fortnight past. 

Mr. Leshlie will tell you that I have given directions for 
your commencing Oreok. One half hour faithfully applied 
by yoimself at study, and another at recitation with Mr. 
Leshlie, vrill suffice to advance you rapidly. 

Your affectionate, 

A« Burr. 


Phil&ddphia, 7th Jaimaiy, 1194. 
When your letters are written with tolerable spirit and 
correctness, I read them two or three times before I per- 
ceive any fault in them, being wholly engaged with the 
pleasure they afford me ; but, for your sake, it is necessary 
that I should also peruse them with an eye of criticism. The 
following are the only mispelled words. You vmte acurate 
for accurate; lattdnam for laudanum ; intirely for entirely ; 
Ais last word, indeed, is spelled both ways, but entirely is 
j I Jiie most usual and the most proper. 
H : Continue to use all these words in your next letter, that I 
\ I may see that you know the true spelling. And tell me 
I what is laudanum t Where and how made 1 And what 
are- Us effects! 





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Aged 37.] MBMoiRs of aaron burr. 371 

" It was what she had long wished for, and was at a 

loss how to procure i^." 

Don't you see that this sentence would have been perfect 
and much more elegant without the last it ? Mr. Leshlie 
will explain to you why. By-the-by, I took the Uberty to 
erase the redundant it before I showed the letter. 

I am extremely impatient for your farther accoimt of 
mamma's health. The necessity of laudanum twice a day 
is a very disagreeable and alarming circumstance. Your 
letter was written a week ago, since which I have no ac 
count. I am just going to the Senate Chamber, where I h 
to meet a journal and letter. Affectionately, 

A. Burr. 


Philndelphia, SUi Japnary, 1794. 

Your two letters of Friday and Saturday came together by 
yesterday's mail, which did not arrive till near sunset. Your 
letter of Friday was not put into the postoffice until Satur* 
day afternoon. You might have as well kept it in your own 
hands till Monday eleven o'clock. Since the receipt oi 
these letters I have been three times to Doctor Rush to con« 
suit him about a drink for your mamma ; but not having had 
the good fortune to find him, have written to him on the 
subject. I shall undoubtedly procure an answer in the 
course of this day, and will forward it by to-morrow's post. 

I beg, Miss Prissy, that you will be pleased to name a 
single ^^unsuccessful efforf which you have made to please 
me. As to the letters and journals which you did write^ 
surely you have reason abundant to believe that they gave 
me pleasure ; and how the dense I am to be pleased with 
those you did not write, and how an omission to write can 
be. called an '* effort^ remains for your ingenuity to disclose. 

You improve much in journalizing. Your last is far more 
sprightly than any of the preceding. Fifty-six lines sola 
was, I admit, an effort worthy of yourself, and which I hope 


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[Aged Zt. 

will be ofieu repeated. But {Nray» when you have got ap to 
two hundied lines a lesson, why do you go back again to 
one hundred and twenty, and one hundred and twenty-fire ? 
You should strive neter to diminish ; but I suppose that vis 
iherticBf wtich is often so troublesome to you, does some* 
times prepcmdmrate. So it is now and then eren with yom^ 

A. Burr. 

Leam the difference between then and than. Tou will 
soonest pefceiTO it l^ translating ihem into Latin. 

Let me see how handsomely you can subscribe your 
iMane to your next letter, about this siaie, 

A. Brax. 


Pyidblphis, ISA of Jamiarr, 1794. 

I fear that you will imagine that I have been inattentive 
to your last request about Dr. Rush ; but the truth is, I can 
get nothing satisfactory out of him. He enumerates over 
to me aU the articles which have been repeatedly tried, and 
some of which did never agree with your mamma. He is^ 
however, particularly desirous that she should agam try milk 
-*-« spoon6il only at a time : another attempt,.he diinfcs^ 
should be made with porter, in some shape or other. Sweet 
oil, molasses, and milk, in equal proportions, he has known 
to agi<ee vritib stomachs which had rejected every thing else» 
Yet he says, and with show of reason, that these things de^ 
pend so much on the taste, the habits of life, the peculi* 
arky of constitution, that she and her attending physic^m 
oan be the best, if not the only advisers. It gives me very* 
great pleasure to leam that she is now better. I shall vmte 
you again oa Sunday, having always much to say to you 

A. Burr. 


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Aged 37.] MBH0IR8 of aarom burs. 87S 


PhilMlelplua, Idtk JancMtry, 1794. 

Your letter of the 9th, my dear Theo., was a most agree- 
able surprise to me. I had not dared eren to hope for 
one until tonnorrow. In <»ie instance, at least, an attempt 
to please me has not been '* unsuccessful." You see I do 
not forget that piece of impudence. 

Doctor Rush says that he cannot conceive animal food to 
be particulariy necessary ; nourishment is the great object 
He approves much of the milk punch and chocolate. The 
stomach must on no account be offended. Hie intermissi<Hi 
ot the pills for a few days (not however for a whole week) 
he thinks not amiss to aid in determining its effects. *The 
quantity may yet be increased without danger, but the pros* 
ent dose is in his opinion sufficient ; but after some days 
continual use, a small increase might be usefuL 

I was yesterday thronged with company firom eight in 
the morning till eleven at night. The Greek signature, 
though a little mistaken, was not lost upon me. I have a 
letter firom Mr. Leshlie, which pays you many compliments. 
He has also ventured to promise that you will every day get 
a lesson in Terence by yourself. You know how grateful 
this will be to 

A. BlTKE. 


Phfladdphit, MUi Janopy, ITU. 

I really think, my dear Theo., that you will be very 
toon beyond all verbal criticion, and thai my whole atten- 
tum vnll be presently directed to the improvement of your 
style. Your letter of the 9th is remarkably correct in point 
of qpelUng. That v^ord reci^ved still escapes your atten* 
tion. Try again. The words wold and ahold are mere 
carelessness ; necesstfry instead of necessary, belongs, I su* 
pect to the same class. 


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^Dr. B. called here, but did not speak of his having le- 
ctered a letter from you, but desired," dec. 

When I copied the foregoing, I intended to have shown 
you how to improre it ; but, upon second thought, determine 
to leare it to yourself. Da me the favour to endorse it on, 
or subjoin it to, your next letter, corrected and varied ac- 
coiding to the best of your skill. 

" Ma begs you will omit the thoughts of leaving Congress," 
dec. ; '' omit" is improperly used here. You mean ^ aban' 
doUj relinquish^ renounce, or abjure the thoughts," dec. 
Your nmtnma, Mr. LeshUe, or your dictionary (Johnson's 
folio), will teach you the force of this observation. The last 
of these words would have been too strong for the occasion. 

You have used with propriety the words " encomium" and 
*' adopted." I hope you may have firequ^it occasi<ni for 
the former, with the like appUcation. 

'' Cannot be committed to paper," is well expressed. 

A. Burr. 


Phfladelphui, 16Ch Juiiiaiy, 1794. 

I fa<^ the mercury, if tried, will be used with the most 
vigilant caution and the most attentive observation of its first 
effects. I am extremely anxious and apprehensive about 
the event of such an experiment. 

I fear, my dear little girl, that my letter of the 13th im- 
posed too much upon you ; if so, dispense with what you 
may find too troublesome. You perceive by this license 
the entire confidence which I place in your discretion. 

Your journal still advances towards perfection. But the 
letter which acc<»npanied it is, I remark with regret, rather 
a falling off. I have received none more carelessly written, 
or'with more numerous omissions of words. I am sensible 
that many apologies are at hand; but you, perhaps, would 
not be sensible that any were necessary, if I should oadX to 
remind you. 


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Aged 37.] MSM0IR8 of aaron burr. 376 

On Sunday se'nnight (I think the 26th) I shall, unless 
baffled or delayed by ice or weather, be with you at Rich* 
mond Hill. I will not bid you adieu till the Friday pr^e- 
ding. In the interim, we shall often in this way converse. 

I continue the practice of scoring words for our mutual 
improvement. The use, as applicable to you, was indicated 
in a former letter. I . *-f 

I am sure you will be charmed with the Greek language j J ^f] 
above all others. Adieu. ' 

A. Burr. 


Philaddphia, 23d Jamitry, 17M. 

lo, triumphe ! There is not a word mispelled either in i 
your journal or letter, which cannot be said of a single page I ^ 
you ever before vnrote. The' fable is quite classical, and, if I 1 . 
not very much corrected by Mr. Leshlie, is truly a surpri* I 
sing performance, and written most beautifully. But what I ^ 
has become of poor Alpha Beta ? Discouraged ? That is 1 
impossible. Laid aside for the present ? That, indeed, is j 1 y 
possible, but by no means probable. Shall J guess again ? ' 
Yes ; you mean to surprise me with some astonishing prog- 
ress. And yet, to confess the truth, your lessons in Ter* 
ence. Exercises, and *' music" (without a A, observe) seem 
to leave little time for any other study. I must remain in 
suspense for four days longer. 

Doctor Rush thinks that bark would not be amiss, but may 
be beneficial if the stomach does not rebuke it, which must 
be constantly the first object of attention. He recommends 
rither the cold infusion or substance as least likely to of- 
fend the stomach. 

Be able, upon my arrival, to tell me the difference be- 
tween an infusion and decoction ; and the history, the vir- 
tues, and the botanical or medical name of the bark. Cham- 
ben will tell you more perhaps than you will wish to read 


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978 HBMoims or aasov bube. [Aged S8. 

of it Your little mercuiial diaquiiition it mgenioasy and 
prettily tokl 

I have a most dreary prospect of weather and roads for 
my journey. I set off on Saturday nunrning, and much 
fiear that it will take two or three days to get to New-York. 



Phitedelplm, lath Febravy, 17M. 

I received your letter and enclosures yesterday in Sen- 
ate. I stopped reading the letter, and took up the story in 
the place you directed; was really affected by the interest- 
ing little tale» futhfully beUering it to have been taken from 
the Mag. D'Enf., and was astonished and delighted when I 
recurred to the letter and found the little deception you had 
played upon me. It is concisely and handsomely toldy and 
is indeed a performance above your years. 

Mr. Leshlie is not, I am afraid, a competent jttdge of 
what yoa are capable of learning ; you must convince him 
that you can, when you set in earnest about it, acccnnplish 

Do you mean that the forty lines which you ccmstrued in 
Virgil were in a part you had not before learned? 

I despair of getting genuine Tent wine in this dty. 
There never was a bottle of real unadulterated T^it im* 
parted here for sale. Mr. Jefferson, who had some for his 
own use, has left town. Good Burgundy and Muscat, mix- 
ed in equal parts, make a better Tent than can be bought. 
But by Bartow's return you shall have mdiat I can gel — 
sooner if I find a conveyance. 

Bartow is the moirt perfect gossqi I ever knew; though, 
I must say, it is the kind of life I have advised him lo 
vrfaile he stay » here. Adieu. 



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Aged 38.] Msif 0IR8 of aaron burr. dT7 


Philadelphia, 7lh March, 1794. 

Your letter of the 4th was three days on the road. I am 
certain that I haVe answered punctually all which have 
come to hand. True, I have not written to you as^ fre- 
quently as during the first few weeks of my residence hdre. 
For the last month I have been very much occupied by 
public business. You will need no other proof of it when 
I tell you that near twenty unanswered letters are now on 
my desk, not one of yours among them, however, except 
that received last evening. I have not even been to the 
theatre except about an hour, and then it was more an 
errand of business than amusement. 

Poor Tom,* I hope you take good care of him. If he is 
confined by his leg, &c., he must pay the greater attention 
to his reading and writing. 

I shall run off to see you iabout Sunday or Monday ; but 
the roads are so extremely bad that I ^cpect to be three 
days getting through. I will bring with me the cherry 
sweetmeats, and something for Augusta Louisa Matilda 
Theodosia Van Home. I believe I have not recollected 
all her names. 


A. Burr. 


Philadelphia^ Slat Maith, 1794. 
I am distressed at your loss of time. I do not, indeed, 
wholly blame you for it, but this does not diminish my 
regret When you want punctuality in your letters, I am 
sure you want it in every thing; for ydu will constantly 
observe that you have the most leimire when you do the 
most business. Negligence of one's duty produces a self- 

* A cdouradman, the date of Cdondl Bnnr. 

Vol. I.— B b b 


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378 MKM0IR8 OF AARON BURR. [Aged 38. 

dissatisfaction which unfits the mind for every thmg, and 
ennui and peevishness are the never-failing consequences. 
You will readily discover the truth of these remarks by 
reflecting on your own conduct, and the difierent feelings 
which have flowed from a persevering attention to study, 
or a restless neglect of it. 
/ I shall in a few days (this week) send you a most beau- 
tiful assortment of flower-seeds and flowering shrubs. 

If I do not receive a letter from you to-morrow, I shall 
be out of all patience. Every day's journal will, I hope, 
say something of mamma. 

A. Burr. 


Philadelphia, 7th Jane, 1794. 

I have received my dear Theo.'s two little, very little, 
French letters. The last left you tormented with headache 
and toothache, too much for one poor little girl to sufier at 
one time, I am sure : you had doubtless taken some sud- 
den cold. You must fight them as well as you can till I 
come, and then I will engage to keep them at bay. 

I remark that you do not acknowledge the receipt of a 
long letter which I wrote you on the road the night after 
I left New- York. I hope it has not missed you ; but it is 
needless now to ask about it, for I shall certainly see you 
before I could receive your answer to this. 

Whatever you shall translate of Terence, I beg you to 
have copied in a book in a very fair handwriting. 

A. Burr. » 


Albany, 4th Angttft, 1704. 

My dear Theo., 
We arrived here yesterday, after a hot, tedious passage 
of seven days. We were delayed as well by accidents as 
by calms and contrary winds. The first evening, being 


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Aged 38.] MBMoiRS of aaron burr. 379 

Under full sail> we ran ashore at Tappan, and lay there 
aground, in a very uncomfortable situation, twenty-four 
hours. With great labour and fatigue we got off on the 
following night, and had scarce got under sail before we 
missed our longboat. We lost the whole tide in hunting 
for it, and so lay till the morning of Wednesday. Haying 
then made sail again, with a pretty strong head wind, at the 
very first tack the Dutch horse fell overboard. The poor 
devil was at the time tied about the neck with a rc^e, so 
that he seemed to have only the alternatives of hanging or 
drowning (for the river is here about four miles^ wide,. and 
the water was very rough) ; fortunately for him, the rope 
broke, and he went souse into the water. His weight 
sunk him so deep that we were at least fifty yards from 
him before he came up. He snorted off the water, and 
turning round once or twice, as if to see where he was, 
then recollecting the way to New- York, he immediately 
swam off down the river with all force. We fitted out our 
longboat in pursuit of him, and at length drove him oa 
shore on the Westchester side, where I hired a man to 
take him to Frederick's. All this delayed us neariy a 
whole tide more. The residue of the voyage was with- 
out accident, except such as you may picture to yourself in 
a small cabin, with seven men, seven women, and two cry« 
ing children — ^two of the women being the most splenetic^ 
ill-humoured animals you can imagine. 

On my arrival here I was delighted to receive your let- 
ter of the 30th, with the journal of that and the preceding 
days. Your history of those three days is very full and 
satisfactory, and has induced me, by way of return, to enlarge 
on the particulars ot my journey. I am quite gratified that 
you have secured Mrs. Penn's (observe how it is spelled) 
good opinion, and content with your reasons frar not saying ' 

^e civil things you intended. In case you should dine in 
company with her, I will apprize you of one circumstance^ 
by a trifling attention to which you may elevate yourself in 


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[Aged 38. 

her esteem. She is a great adrocate for a very plain, laihei 
abstemious diet in children, as you may see by her conduct 
with Miss Elizabeth. Be careful, therefore, to eat of but one 
dish ; that a plain roast or boiled : little or no gravy or but* 
ter, and very sparingly of dessert or fruit : not more than 
half a glass of wine ; and if more of any thing to eat or drink 
is offered, decline it. If they ask a reason — Papa thinks it 
not good for me, is the best that can be given. 

It was with great pain and reluctance that I made this 
journey without you. But your manners are not yet quite 
sufficiently formed to enable you to do justice to your own 
character,* and the expectations which are formed of you, 
or to my wishes. Improve, therefore, to the utmost the 
present opportunity ; inquire of every point of behaviour 
about which you are embarrassed ; imitate as much as you 
can the manners of Madame De S., and observe also every 
thing which Mrs. Penn says and does. 

You should direct your own breakfast. Send Cesar every 
morning for a pint of milk for you ; and, to save trouble to 
Madame De S., let her know that you eat at breakfast only 
bread and butter. 

I wish you would read over your letters after you have 
written them ; for so many words are omitted, that in somo 
places I cannot make out the sense, if any they contain^ 
Make your figures or ciphers in your letters, but vnrite out 
the numbers at length, except dates. 

Adieu, affectbnately adieu, 

A. BiTRR. 


A3bnif. 14th Aafuit, 1794. 

Mt dsar Thbo., 
Last evening's mail brought me your letter and journal 
from the 1st to the 11th of August, according to your dates, 
which, however, are virrong. 

• TliBodofia had BOW ADtMed her li0#{^ ytw. 


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The aocoqnt of your time is very satis&ctQry. Yon 
really get along mudi better than I eipeeted, whidi is 
infinite^ to the credit of year good senae^ di«t brnng your 
only guide. From the attentiona yon receire from Mra. 
Penn and her £Eunuly» I judge you have been ao fortunate 
as to gain her esteem, and that her prejudices are turned into 
prepossessions, which I assure you gratified me not a little. 

Your inritation to the Z.'s was, I confess, a very embar- 
rassing dilemma, and one firom which it was not easy to 
extricate yourself. For the future, take it as your rule to 
visit only the families which you haTO known me to Tisit; 
and- if Madame De S. should propose to you to risit aiqr 
odier, yon may tell her what are my instnietions on the 
anfajecU To die young kdies, you may pretend business or 
engagements: a(T<Md, howeier, giring any offence to year 
companions. It isdiemannerof arefiBal,mnchmate than 
the refusal, which gires offence. This direetion about year 
▼isits apfdies oolj to the citizens or Englidi £unilies. You 
may, indeed it is my wish, that yon should Tisit widi 
Madame De S. all her French acquaintanoeu 

I go this afternoon to attend a court at BaHston, and 
shall, ctt Monday, attend one at Tray, whidi wffl probaUy 
last about three days ; afier which I shall take passage for 
New-York, proposing, howerer, to pass a day at Kingston, 
and another at Poughkeepsie, widi cktzen HautericTe, so that 
I may be expected home some time in the week after next; 
b«t you will hear often firom me befioe that time. You 
must not send me any letter afier diose which KnU come by 
^ mail leaving New-York on Monday next ; yet you mnsi 
continue your letters and journal as usual, £or my amuse* 
ment on my return. 

In future, write no more on the littk paper, but let the let* 
lers and journal be together on paper of this size, or com* 
mon letter-paper. Set apart erery day half an hour or an 
hour to write to me, and I must again entreat you to write 

( yf 



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[Aged as. 

. ^ 

at least legibly : after great pains, I am wholly unable to 
dec^ber some of the hieroglyphics contained in your last. 

Four pages in Lucian was a great less(m ; and why, my 
dear Theo., can^t this be done a httle oftener ? You must, 
by this time, I think, have gone through Lucian. I wish 
you to begin and go through it again ; for it would be shame- 
ful to pretend to have read a hock of which you could not 
construe a page. At the second reading you will, I sup- 
pose, be able to double your lessons ; so that you may go 
through it in three weeks. You say nothing of writing or 
learning Ghreek verbs; — ^is this practice discontinued? and 
why ? 

I wish yo^ to go ofiener to the house. You may, if you 
like, go any morning, to take an early breakfast there, giving 
notice the day he&xe to Mr. LeshKe, that he may attend at 
the hour of your return, when I know you can readily 
make up the lost time. 

Do you continue to preserve Madame De S.'s good opin- 
ion of your talents for the harp ? And do you fiml thatyou 
converse with more facility in the French ? These are in* 
teresting questions, and your answer to this will, I hope^ 
answer fully all the questions it contains. Yale, vale. 



Albany, 16lh Angnat, 17M. 

Another post has arrived, and brought me no letter from 
you> It is the last omission which I shall readily pardon, 
and this only in consideration of your not having then re- 
ceived my last. I returned this day from Ballston, and 
my principal business to this city was to receive and answer 
your letters^ Judge, therefore, of my disappointment. 

Mr. and Mrs. Witbeck made many inquiries about you, 
and appeared mudi mortified that you did not accompany 

I hope you will, before this can reach you, have answer- 


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Aged 38.] xraoiRs of aaroh busx* 

ed J; Yat^'s letter. 'Once more I place' my exjpectatioiui on 
the arrival of the next post. 

Let me know wh^her Mrs. Penn has left town, how often 
you have been with her, and what passed. I need not re- 
peat my anxiety to know how you and Madame de S. agree, 
and what progress you make in music, dancing, and speak- 
ing French. She promised to give you now and then a les- 
son on the forte-piano ; is she as good as her word ? 

Having failed in your promise to write by every post, you 
cannot expect me to return within the mcmth-'^one promise 
being foundied on die other. 

Your affectionate papa, 



Albanj, ISth Afigost, I'm, 

Yesterday I received your letter and journal to the 13di 
iiicltisive. On the 13th you say you got nine pages in Lu- 
cian. It was, to be sure, a most surprising lesson. I sus- 
pect it must haye been the second time going over; and 
even then it would have been great, and at the same rate 
you will be through a second time before my month is up. 
I should be delighted to find it so. I have not told you di^ 
rectly that I should stay longer than a month, but I was an- 
gry enough with yoxk to stay three months when you neglect-; 
ed to ¥rrite to me for two successive posts. 

I am very sorry to see so many blank days viith Mr* 
Leshlie. If he is not at your room within a quarter of an 
hour of his time, Cesar should be forthwith sent off express 
for him. Let Cesar, therefore, call on you every morning 
at the hour Mr. Leshlie ought to come. 

I left New-York on the 28th of July. My month, there- 
fore, will expire on the 28th of August, so that you cannot 
complain until that day is past. The court at Troy will 
probably detain me the whole of this week, which is three 
days longer than I e]q>ected. 


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fvM-^^-' ♦ "^^ «*' ^ 


MBMOIU OF MUL%m wnM. {J^g^ 88. 

I long to hear what ycm eontribvtad towaxds Madame de 
S.'s jour de /He. No letter yet far Jidni Yates. Why do 
jaa dahy it ao long ? Yoo have had several kirare days ; 
lar this delay there afaoold be aome apology m yoiar kttec 
AfertifWMtely yowr p^Mi^ 

A. Binuu 




Mt mur Trbo.» 

I sent Alexis in the rain to ABbsiqr far your iNtef oi the 
18th and joorsdl, which he has just brought me. Your let- 
ters ace my only consolaticm during this afflicting absence — 
far it is to me a real affliction. I have foibome to ei^neas 
to you my impatience, leal il should mcrease yours. 

The business I have undertaken here will, contrary to all 
eaq>ectatioBi^ detain me tiH Saturday sig^ I hope to heron 
my retuna as Momhyy vfhen you. must bq^is to pray fac 
MKlherly winds ; oc^ U yoa haare leamed^ to say mass, Ast 
llMi Fmneh Roman Catholics lely on to pxooure thom aft 
esnfaly aad spiritual blessings. By4he-by» if you have not 
been to the RosMnehi^U I insist thst yen go next l^mdaj, 
a y^m are not engaged in some other party. 

I am ¥ery h^ppy to leeeive a lettcar fiur John Yates, I 
shaK aend it to htm to-day ; it is veiy hsadsame, and vntt 
please him muck I will mdeed xetum with aH posaibl#; 
speed. Goalinufl yoor )o«inial. Adieu. 

A. Boju 


I obeyed faithfully the coaamuid ifi> your letfier which 
bade mo read the jousnal first, and I read it vriih great esf* 
gemess, hoping to find what I did find is die last sentence. 
That 16thvHMreaUy asnriffiaii^day. Three hundred and 


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Aged 38.] Mmoimo ow aaew bur. 996 

ittnety*fiye lines, all your exercises, and all your music. Go 
on, my dear girl, and you will become all diat I wish. 

I keep carefully your letters and journals, and when we 
meet you shall read them again, which I am sure you witt *1 
do with pleasure. It is always delightful to see and correct J\ *^^ 
our own errors. ' / 

Monsieur Maupertuis is highly mortified that you should 
suppose him so ignorant as to have lost himself (jn the road. 
It seems he only went a httle off the highway /rowi curios* 
ity to see the country, ^ 

I hope you like Terence. Can't you lug a scrap from i \ ^^f 
him now and then, apropos, into your letters ? It will please j j 
Your i^ectionate papa, « 

A. Burr. 


New-Yoik, 5th JMraary, 17ft5. 

You see me safe arriTed in New^York. I have passed 
hvX one hour at Richmond Hill. It seems soUtary and un- 
desirable without you. They are all well, and much, very 
much disappointed that you did not come with me. 

Pray write to Mrs. A., if but one line ; she expects and 
deserves it. I was there last evening for the first time. 
Your picture is reaUy like you ; still it does not quite please 
me. It has a pensive, sentimental air ; that of a love-sick 
maid ! Stewart has probably meant to anticipate what you 
may be at sixteen ; but even in that I think he has missed it. 

Bartow has grown immensely fat. Mrs. A. has recov- 
ered and walks about. There has been a serious attempt to 
institute masquerade. It has not succeeded, nor is it yet 

We (you and I) have both neglected one duty of civility. 
Some weeks ago Mrs. Jackson was polite enough to call on 
you, with Miss Jackson and Miss Brown, who left you cards. 
You have never returned the visit. I beg you to do it with- 
out delay. Doctor Edwards will probably make time to go 

Vol. L— C c c 17 


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386 MBMOiRS or airon burs. [Aged 39. 

with you for a few minutes. It is at Doctor Jackson's in 
Third-street, between High and Arch. 

Our house in Partition-street is very neatly finished, and 
pleases me much ; so much that I propose to inhabit it upon 
our return from Philadelphia, at least until the hot weather. 

You are now in the arms of Somnus, or ought to be ; for 
though I date my letter the 6th, it is in truth about half past 
eleven at night of the 4th. So wants half an hour of the 
6th. Dream on. Salutem, 

A. Burr. 


Bristol, 14th September, 1795. 

Saturday night I lodged at Elizabethtown, and, after two 
wettings, dined on Sunday with General Freelinghuysen. 
Madame (late Miss Yard) asked much after you, as did Ma- 
ria, the general's daughter. Tlie family is a picture of cheer- 
fulness and happiness. At Princeton (to-day) I naet Le 
Mercier, who is well, except a broken scull, a face disfig- 
ured, and some bruises about the ribs-— considerable deduc- 
tions, you will say, from the " corpore sano." They are 
the effects of a very huge beating bestowed on him (gratis) 
by two gentlemen of the town. He had some difierence 
with one of them, who had challenged him, which Le Mer- 
cier refused, not being a Christian-like and clerical way of 
settling difierences. So the challenger, with a friend (for 
L. M. could have thrashed him singly), took an opportunity 
to catch poor Le Mercier alone, and discussed the subject 
with him in the manner above stated. 

Your friends Miss Stockton and Miss Smith said some 
civil things about you, and send abundance of love, which I 
promised them I would fojget to deliver. 

My journey thus far has been wonderfully fortunate, hav- 
ing only overset once and broken down once, which, consid- 
ering that I am seventy miles .on my route, is, forme, a very 
small list of grievances ; but I shall count it full measure if 


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Aged 39.] MKMoiRS of airon bure. S87 

I am prevented from entering Philadelphia to-morrow, whidi 
is a Utile to be apprehended. 

You must pay off Meance and Hewlet for their attend- 
ance on you and Natalie.* They must be paid regularly at 
the end of each month. I forgot it. Get their accounts, 
and give them an order on Strong for the amount. When 
eitheir of you want money, Roger Strong will furnish it. 
Pray settle also your account widi Madame Senat, and write 
me that these things are done. 

Tell Mr. Martel that I request that all the time he can 
spare you be devoted to Latin ; that I have provided you 
with a teacher of French, that no part of his attention might 
be taken off. I will send from Philadelphia the certificate 
he requested, which escaped my memory while at New- 

I fear it will puzzle you all to decipher this. You may 
«how to Mr. Martel the clause which relates to him. Salu- 
tem, ch^re Theodosia. 



Philadelphia^ 17th September, 1795. 

By this post I received a letter from Colonel Ward, re- 
questing leave to remove his family into my house, Rich- 
mond Hill. He lives, you may recollect, in the part of the 
town which is said to be sickly. I could not therefore 
refuse. He will call on you to go out with him. You had 
better, immediately on receipt of this, go out yourself, and 
apprize Anthony and Peggy. 

Your letter to Kersaint is much to the purpose. It came 
by this day's mail, though put in the postoffice on Tuesday, 
but after the closing of the mail. With it I have also re- 

« Natalie De Lage was the daughter of a French lady, who was once a mem- 
ber of the family of the Princess L'Ambaul. Natalie was adopted and educated 
by Colonel Barr as his child. She married the son of General Sumter, of 
South Candina. 


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^ived your letter, written, I suppose, on Tuesday evenk^, 
because it speaks of the circus ; but, as usual, without date* 
I beg that, when you sit down to write a letter, you will be- 
gin by putting a date at the top ; this will then presently 
become a habit, and will never be omitted. 
! I am sorry, very sony that you are obliged to submit to 
some reproof. Indeed, I fear that your want of attention 
and politeness, and your awkward postured, require it. As 
you appear desirous to get rid of these bad habits, I h(q>e 
you will soon afford no room for ill-nature itself to find fault 
widi you — I mean in these particulars ; for as to wiiat re- 
gards your heart and your motives of action, I know tfaena 
to be good, amiable, and pure. But to return to die -subject 
of manners, dec. I have often seen Madame at table, and 
other situations, pay you the utmost attention; offer you 
twenty civilities, while you appeared scarcely sensible that 
dhe was speaking to you ; or, at the most, replied with ac<dd 
remercie, without even a look of satisfiextion or complaeency. 
A moment's reflection will convince you that this conduct 
will be naturally construed into arrogance ; as if you thought 
that all attention was due to you, and as if you felt above 
showing the least to anybody. I know that you abhor such 
sentiments, and that you are incapable of being actuated by 
them. Yet you expose yourself to the censure widiout in- 
tending or knowmg it. I believe you will in future avoid it. 
Observe how Natalie replies to the smallest civihty which 
is offered to her. 

Your habit of stooping and bringing your shoulders for- 
ward on to your breast not only disfigures you, but is alarm- 
ing on account of the injury to your health. The continu- 
ance in this vile habit will certainly produce a consumption : 
then farewell papa ; farewell pleasure ; farewell life ! ^Phis 
is no exaggeration ; no fiction to excite your apprehensions. 
But, setting aside this distressing consideration, I am aston- 
ished that you have no more pride in your appearance. 
You will certainly stint your growth and disfigure your 


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-f^'^r^i^ --r f^T^, 

If. -I 




Aged 39.] MSMOiRs of aaron burr. 

Eeceiye with calmness eveiy repioof^ whether made 
kindly or mikindly.; whether just or unjust. Consider 
within yourself whether there has been no cause for it. If 
it has been groundless and unjust, nevertheless bear it with 
composure, and even with complacency. Remember that 
one in the situation of Madame has a thousand things to 
fret the temper ; and you know that cme out of humour, fcur 
any cause whatever, is apt to vent it on every perscm that 
happens to be in the way. We must learn to bear these 
things ; and, let me tell you, that you will always feel nmch I ^' 

better, much happier, for having borne with serenity the ^ * \e%^ 
spleen, of any one, than if you had returned spleen for * ' ^ 

spleen. ■ 

You will, I am sure, my dear Theodosia, pardon two i 4 *^ 
such grave pages from one who loves you, and whose hap- 
piness depends very much on yours. Read it over twice. 
Make me no promises on the subject. On my return, I 
shall see in half an hour whether what I have vrritten has 
been well or ill received. If well, it will have produced an 

I have selit Alexis with your letter to Kersaint while I 
write this. After closing of the mail I shall present myself. 
To-morrow morning I take stage for Baltimore; thence to 
Washington, &c. You shall certainly hear often from rae. 
You have not yet acknowledged the receipt of my letter 
£rom Bristol. R. Strong has received his, vmtten at the 
same time. Having many letters to answer by this mail, I 
cannot add any thing sprightly to this dull letter. One dull 
thing you vnll hear me repeat without disgust, that 
I am your affectionate friend, 

A. Burr. 


City of Washington, 23d September, nw. 

I write from the house of our friends. Law and Duncan- 
«oni where I make my home. Miss Duncanson, who is 


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300 MSMOiRS OF AARON BURR. [Aged 89. 

mistress of the house, is a veiy sprightly, sensible, ladylike 
woman. My remarks on this city are resenred till we 

Your letter of the 17th, and one without date (I suppose 
the 18th), came in this evening. They contain more wit 
and sprightliness than you ever wrote in the same compass, 
and have amused me exceedingly. But why do you dimin- 
ish their value by carelessness ? Therc^ is an omission of 
one ox more words in almost every sentence. At least I 
entreat you to read over your letters before you seal them : 
some clauses are absolutely unintelligible, though in sever- 
al I can guess what word you intended. 

Why are you still in town ? I am very much dissatisfied 
with it ; for Mr. Strong writes me that the fever is in Parti- 
tion-street, rbeg you to go off with a good parcel of books 
to Frederick's. 

I told Madame Senat that I should want the two firont 
rooms in Partition-street, and the very small room which 
adjoins the smallest of the firont rooms ; and surely she vrill 
have room enough without it. Try to arrange this so ; that 
is, by asking her if she cannot spare that room (the large 
firont). Mr. Strcmg writes me that she is taking possession 
of it. In that case my papers will be moved, which wiU be 
very disagreeable to me. 

I fix the 24th of October for my return ; if any very ex« 
traordinary thing should detain me, you shall be advised of 
it seasonably. Direct to me at the city of Washington un- 
til the 10th of October. Tell R. Strong the same* I fop- 
got to write it to him. 

When you go <m any party firom Pelham, to Brown's 
Mrs. Cox's, dec, your studies may be intermitted. At least 
as much of them as may be necessary. I am tired, and 
half sick ; a great cold, for which I shall lie by here to- 
morrow. Thine, 

A. Burr. 


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Aged 39.] MBMOiRS of aaron bvsr. 391 


City of Washington, 26th September, 17Ml 

Since Tuesday last I have been here much against my 
will ; arlrested by high command ; performing quarantine by 
authority not to be questioned or controverted. In plain 
Enghsh, I am sick. On Wednesday I found one side of my 
face as large as your uncle F.'s ; red swollen eyes ; ears 
buzzing and almost stopped ; throat so closed as to refuse 
a passage to words out or food in; ^d a stupid ma^- 
headedness, well adapted to the brilliancy of my figure. 
Being the guest of my friends Law and Duncanson, I re^ 
ceive from them the most distressing attentions, but espe- 
cially from Miss Duncanson, a well-bred, sprightly, and 
agreeable woman. My person had not, however, till this 
morning, received its last embellishment. Alexis came in 
at his usual hour, and presenting himself at my bedside^ 
after staring at me for half a minute, exclaimed, with an air 
of great astonishment — Diable ! and not a word more. Qm* 
a^t-il, Alexis ? To which he made not a word of reply, but 
fell to drawing up the curtains ; and having also very delib- 
erately opened the window-shutters, he returned again to 
his examination. After gazing for some time (which I 
found it useless to interrupt), he diabled two or three times 
at intervals»of some seconds, and then pronounced that I had 
ou la petite virole ou la rougeole; and to convince me, brought 
a glass. In truth he did not diable without reason, for my 
whole face, neck, hands, and arms are most bountiftilly 
covered with something like the measles or rash. AU 
these pleasant appearances seem to be the effect3 of a great 
cold, taken I know not when or how-^ 

** NU iUi larva out tragicia ignw eate eotkumis.** 

My throat is something better, notwithstanding I w^nt 
abroad yesterday. 


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3di inBMOiAB OF AAmoir BVRR* [Aged 89. 

Smiday, 27th SeptembCT. 

I am 80 much better to^lay, that, if the weather was 
good, I shofold prosecute my journey if I could find the 
liieans of getting on ; but the rain, which is continual and 
very heavy, keeps well and sick within doors. 

It is now ten days since I have heard from you; a very 
long time, ccmsidering the situation in which you was left 
at the date of your last : in a ci^ infected with a mortal 
and contagious fever. I hope, nay, I persuade myself that 
yon obeyed my wishes by escaping from it to Pelham. 
The next maji will tell me, and, I trust, relieve me firom an 
anxiety which pursues me day and night. 

Monday, 28th September. 

Your letter of the 21st, written, I suppose, at Dr. Brown's, 
is just come in, and relieves me from a weight of anxiety 
about your health. I am sorry, however (very sorry), that 
you are not at Frederick's, and am not absolutely either 
pleased or satisfied with the change. 

Of attention and tenderness you will receive not only 
enough, but a great deal too much ; and an indulgence ta 
every inattention, awkward habit, and expression, which 
may lead you to imagine them to be so many ornaments : 
as to your language, I shall expect to find it perfectly 
infantine. As to studies or lessons, I do not know which 
of them you allude to, as you do not say whai books you 
have taken up. If Mr. Leshlie is your only master, as I 
suppose, your lesson must be larger dian ever heretofore. 
Your translation of the comedy into French, if not finished, 
must go on; and if finished, something similar must be 
taken i;p. Some English or French history must employ 
a little of every day. I hope you will ride on horseback 
daily if the weather should permit — Sam* always with 
you. Visit your n^eighbours B. B. as often as you please, 

♦ A slave of Colonel Ban's. 


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Aged 40.] MiifoiRB OF iaron burr. 393 

taking very great care not to surfeit the family with your / | 
charming company, which may happen much sooner thaa 
you would be inclined to believe. 

You ought to be out of the Odyssey before this wiU j r ^ 
reach you, counting only two hundred lines a day since we #-- 

parted. You may begin the lUad, if you please. Since ^ 
you are at uncle B.'s, I will not now pretend to inquire into j ^ / 
the motives, much less to censure. I have no doubt but 
you meant to do the best, and I now hope you will endeav- 
our to make the best of it, and bad enough that will be, 
with respect to all improvement, if I am not disappointed. 

Pray allot an hour for your journal, and never let it be a 
day in arrear I shall consider this as occupying usefully 
the hour which used to be Hewlet's or Meance's. At any 
rate, let me not, on my return, have occasion to apply to 
you the motto, 

** Strarat me ezflvctt ineiiiat'* 
nor that other of 

<< Opeioee nihii agit" 

But SO improve your time that you may with pleasure re* 
view and conunit it to journal. 

-"Hoc est, 


Vivere bie, vitA priori frui." 
And let it, at no very distant period, be said of you, j \ 

« Tel, tibi, tout, ergo dotet> ^ot nden codo.** 

If you should never deserve this, it shall not be the &ult of 1 1 t y 

A. Burr. \\ 


New-York, SUi Febnimry, 1T96. 

What will you think of the taste of New- York when I 
sl^ tell you that Miss Broadhurst is not very generally 
admired here ? Such is the fact. I have contributed my 
feeble efforts to correct this opinion. 

Vol. I.— D d d 17* 


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394 MBM0IR8 OF AA&ON BURR. [Aged 40. 

Mat's* child will not be christened until you shall be 
pleased to indicate the time, place, manner, and name. 

I have promised Tom that he shall take me to Philadel- 
phia if there be sleighing. The poor fellow is almost crazy 
about it. He is importuning all the gods for snow, but as 
yet they don't appear to listen to him. 

Your being in the ballette charms me. If you are to prac 
tise on Wednesday evening, do not stay away for the ex- 
pectation of receiving me. If you should be at the bal- 
lette, I will go forthwith to see you. Adieu, ch^re fiUe. 

A. Burr. 

TO THsonosiA. 

Philadelphia, Idth Janaary, 1797. 

When I write to you oftener than your turn, you must 
not let it be known, or there will be jealousy. Your two 
letters of the 11th and 13th have so much wit, sprightliness, 
and good sense, that I cannot delay to tell you how much 
they pleased me. Go on, and you will write better than 
Cynthia herself. To aid your advances towards perfection^ 
I shall often point out such errors as shall appear to me 
more particularly to claim your attention. 

At present you fail most in punctuation. A very little 
thought will teach where the sense is complete and a full 
period is proper. The lesser pauses may be fotmd by read- 
inc over two or three times what you may have written. 
You will naturally make small pauses where the sense shall 
require it. In spelling you are very well. Always vmte 
your name with great care. Adieu. 

A. Burr. 

* A aenrant of Colonel Bur. 


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Aged 40.] MEMOIRS of aarok burr. 


to theodosia. 

Philadelphia, 23d January, 1797. 

You must not " puzzle all day," my dear little girl, at one 
hard lesson. After puzzling faithfully one houir, apply to 
your arithmetic, and do enough to convince th^ doctor that 
you haye not been idle. Neither must you be discouraged 
by one unlucky day. The doctor is a very reasonable man, 
and makes all due allowance for the levities as well as for 
the stupidity of children. I think you will not often chal-^ 
lenge his indulgence on either score. 

And do you regret that you are not also a woman ? That 
you are not numbered in that galaxy of beauty which adorns 
an assembly-room ? Coquetting for admiration and attract- 
ing flattery ? No. I answer with confidence. You feel 
that you are maturing for solid friendship. The friends you 
gain you will never lose ;^and no one, I think, will dare to 
insult your understanding by such compliments as are most 
graciously received by too many of your sex. 

How unpardonably you neglect C. and N. B.: Where 
are the promised letters? I see with delight that you im- 
prove in diction, and in the combination and arrangement of 
your little ideas. With a view to farther improvement, youf 
letters to me are a most useful exercise. I feel persuaded 
that all my hopes and wishes concerning you will be acconv^ 

Never use a word which does not fully express yoiflr 
thoughts, or which, for any other reason, does not please 
you. Hunt your dictionary till you find one. Arrange a 
whole sentence in your mind before you write a word of it ; 
and, whatever may be your " hurry" (never be in a hurry)^ 
read over your letter slowly and carefully before you seal it. 
Interline and erase lightly with your pen what may appear 
to you to require amendment or correction. I dispense 
with your copying unless the letter should be much defaced, 
in which case keep it till the next mail. Copy and m^^ 
pr9ve it. 




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] . J^ ui>:». «c Oi^ »* <» 'SA-'ji^^ 


miioiKt or AAKOK BOR«. [Aged 4t. 


Your play on " Light" is pretty and wiUy, and the turn 
on the dear little letter does not dishonour the metempsy- 
chosis of Madame Dacier. 

I shall probably see you very soon ; we will then rear- 
range your hours, and endeavour to remove the present and 
forestall all future troubles. I should be mortified — I should 
be almost offended — ^if I should find that you passed over 
any word in my letters without becoming perfectly acquaint- 
ed with its meaning, use, and etymology. 

Since 1 commenced this letter, yours of the 21st has come 
m. It speaks of another which has not come, and of Mar- 
tel's paper, neither of which have come. This arises from 
\ " hurry " The note to Mr. Livingston is middling. Affec- 
tionately — ^no, you hate that word ; perhaps every thing is 
implied in plain 

A. Burr. 


Albany, 4th January, 1799. 

On Tuesday I arrived here, and yesterday received your 
two letters of the 29th and 30th of December. Your de- 
sqpondency distresses me extremely. It is indeed unfortu- 
nate, my dear Theodosia, that we are constrained to be sep- 
arated. I had never so much need of your society and 
friendship, nor you, perhaps, of mine. It is a misfortune 
' which I sincerely regret every hour of the day. It is one, 
however, which you must aid me to support, by testifying 
tfiat you can support your share of it with firmness and ac- 
tivity. An effort made with decision will convince you that 
you are able to accomplish all I wish and all you desire. 
Determination and perseverance in every laudable underta- 
king is the great point of difference between the silly and 
the vrise. It is essentially a part of your character, and re- 
quires but an effort to bring it into action. The happiness 
of my life depends on your exertions ; for what else, for 
wh(Hn else do I live ? Not that the acquisiticm df the lan- 


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7. '^ 

Aged 42. 


J.] ^^EMOIRft OF AARON BURR. 397 €r^^^^ 

guages alone can decide your happiness or mine ; but if yoii 
should abandon the attempt, or despair of success, or relax 
your endeavours, it would indicate a feebleness of character 
which would dishearten me exceedingly. It is for my sake 
that you now labour. I shall acknowledge your advance- 
ment with gratitude and with the most lively pleasure. Let 
me entreat you not to be discouraged. I know you to be 
capable of much greater efforts than this will require. If 
your young teacher, after a week's trial, should not suit you, 
dismiss him on any pretence without wounding his pride, 
and take the old Scotchman. Resolve to succeed, and you 
cannot fail. 

I parted with you amid so much hurry and confusion, and 
80 many vexations, that, when I had time to reflect, I seem- 
ed to have said none of the things which I had wished and 
intended. I reproached myself perpetually that I had not 
urged you to attend me. Your letters almost confirmed me 
in the design of returning to fetch you ; and yet more sober 
reascHi seems to tell me that these things were rather the 
effusions of sentiment than of a deliberate estimate of your 
real interests. In six weeks, however, we shall meet. 

I intended to have recommended to you the ancient and 
modern history of Millot. Natalie has some of the volumes 
— son^ are in the library at Mrs. D.'s, of which I hope you 
keep the key. Millot is concise, perspicuous, and well se- 
lected. Rollin is full of tedious details and superstitious 

There is nothing more certain than that you may form 
what countenance you please. An open, serene, intelligent ; 
countenance, a little brightened by cheerfulness, not wrought ' I 
into smiles or simpers, will presently become familiar and / 
grow into habit. A year will with certainty accomplish it. / ' 
Yout physiognomy has naturally much of benevolence, and . 
it will cost you some labour (which you may well spare) to 
eradicate it. Avoid, for ever avoid, a smile or sneer of con- 
tempt ; never even mimic them. A frown of sullenness or^ 





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discontent is but one degree less hateful. You seem to re* 
quire these things of me, or I should have thought them un- 
necessary. I see, with pleasure I see, that you have enga- 
ged in this matter. We shall both be gratified by the re- 
sult, which cannot fail to accord with our wishes. 

R. has a deal of godly coquetry. It makes a strange 
medley. I was most hospitably received, and full opportu- . 
nity given with pretty apparent design. R. has promised 
to be in Albany in a month. Things are in statu quo. 

I am unsettled, and at present at Witbeck's. One would 
think that the town was going into mourning for your ab- 
sence. I am perpetually stopped in the streets by Uttle and 
big girls. Where i« Miss Burr ? Won't she come up this 
winter ? Oh, why didn't you bring her ? &c. 

J. B. P. arrived yesterday; he has not given me a lett^, 
or any other thing from you. He suspects, however, that he 
has at least a letter ; a fact which he will endeavour to as- 
certain in the course of this week. I wrote you two letters 
on my way up, addressed to 135 Greenwich-street. Is that 
right ? Adieu, chere amie, 

A. Burr. 


Albany, 11th Febrouy, 1799. 

On Saturday, the 9th, I received your two letters, from 
the Ist to the 6th inclusive ; the last of which is the only 
one that has come in due season, or in what is termed 
the course of post. You now see that a letter can come 
from New- York in three days ; a truth which has been fre- 
quently verified by the receipt of my letters, but never be- 
fore by the despatch of your own. 

How very perverse and provoking you are about your 
correspondence with Mr. Martin. I told you expressly that 
he was not angry, but, on the contrary, that he sent it laugh- 
ingly and as a good joke. Pray, from whom did you learn 
that he was angry ? 


ized by Google 

Aged 43.] MEMOIRS of aaron burr. 399 

You charge me with not noticing two of your letters, and 
that I have not given you any directions about heedlessness. 
With submission, miss, you are mistaken. It is true that 
I have not repeated the word, but I have intimated several 
things intended to this point. You expected, I presume, 
that I should treat the subject scientifically, as Duport does 
his art, and begin by explanation of terms, and then proceed 
to divide and subdivide the matter, as a priest does a ser- 
mon. Such a dose would, I am sure, have sickened you. 
I have therefore thought it best to give you very little at 
a time, and watch, as physicians do with potent medicines, 
the effect produced. When we meet, which I verily believe 
vrill be in five or six days after the receipt of this, you shall 
have as much as I shall find your stomach will bear. 

What the dense can have got into Madame S. and N., I 
am utterly at a loss to conjecture, and beg you not to give^ 
the remotest hint, but meet them as usual. 

My overtures to B. Livingston and Mr. and Mrs. R. were 
mere volunteers, not produced by any thing you said or 
wrote ; but I thought it might tend to produce a certain ef- 
fect in your favour. So you have no apologies to make or 
pardons to ask on this subject. As this, however, is much 
the best composed part of your letter, I am particularly 
obliged to you for it, even if you did it to display your elo- 
quence. It is, indeed, very happily expressed. 

You seem to have emerged from your lethargy, which, I 
must confess, was obvious to an alarming degree in several 
preceding letters, I congratulate you upon it, and hope you 
will never suffer it again to invade your faculties. 

We will talk of houses, &c. about the 19th inst. Henry 
Walton has gone to New-York by the last stage. He is 
one of those whose good opinion and esteem I wish you to 
acquire. He has delicacy, taste, and refinement — very, very 
rare qualities in this country at this day. He will be often 
at your house ; receive him with courtesy. 

I go to bed between 12 and 1, and rise between 7 and 8. 


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400 MBMouis OF AAROK BUR». ^ [Aged 43. 

For some reasons to me unknown, I cannot drink a single 
glass of wine without serious injury ; still less can I bear 
ardent spirits ; of course, I am pretty much in the bread and 
water line ; this is the more provoking, as I dine out almost 
crery day, and the dinners are really excellent and well- 
dressed, not exceeded in New-York. I have dined at home 
but four days since my arrival in this city. Think of that 
Miss B., and be hush about hospitality, &c. 

Your name to one letter is beautifully written ; to the 
other, la la. The handwriting of the letters various ; very 
good, very bad, and middling ; emblematic, shall I say, of 
the fair authoress ? Please to resolve me whether author is 
not of both genders, {or I hate the appendix oi ess ? 

What novel of Miss Bumey or IKArblay is that in which 
the heroine begins by an interesting account of little details 
on her d6but in Lcttidony and particularly of a bell where i^ 
met Lord Somebody and did twenty ridiculous things ! I 
want such a. description of a ball from you. Be pleased to 
mad those first letters of the novel referred to, and take them 
for a modeL 

You don't say half enough about the l<mg letter which I 
wrote you aa Sumiay of the last week. Adieu, cfa^re 

A. BuiR. 


Albany, 26th January, 1600. 

We arrived yesterday without accident. To-day I ex- 
pected Alexis and John ; but the stage has arrived without 
them, and without a line explanatory of the cause of their 

On alighting from the stage yesterday, I found at the door 
of my intended lodgings a number of persons who were im- 
patiently expecting my arrival. I perceive that I shall be 
day and night engrossed by business. If i should write to 
. you less (xc less often than usual, you vriU know the cause. 


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Aged 43.] MSiiaiRs of aason burr. 401 

The ideas, of which yon are the object, that daily pass 
through my mind, would, if committed to writing, iill an oc- 
tavo volume ; invent, then, and teach me some mode of wri- 
ting with die facility and rapidity that we think, and you 
shall receive by every mail some hundred pages. But to 
select from a thousand thoughts that which is best and most 
seasonable; of the variety of attitudes of which every ob- 
ject is susceptible, to determine on that which is most suita- 
ble for the thing and the occasion ; of all possible modes of 
eipression and language, to discern the most appropriate, kic 
labor y hoc opus esU Yet have we both known persons of a 
moderate grade of intellect who could write whenever you 
would put a pen in their hands, and for any length of time 
you might please, vnthout one moment of reflection or em- 
barrassment Pray explain to me this phenomencm. All 
this I confess is not very applicable to you or to my present 
occupation, for I generally write you what first offers, with- 
out considering whether it be the best; and if many obtrude 
themselves at once, I wrrite you, as at present, of — jiotJdng. 

Indeed, my dear Theodosia, I have many, many moments ^ 

of solicitude about you. Remember that occupation will • / 

infallibly expel the fiend ennui, and that solitude is the bug- 
bear of fools. God bless and aid thee. « ; 

A. Burr 


Albany, aotk January, 1800. 

At length John and Alexis have arrived ; but what grati- 
fied me more, and what I looked for with much more impa- 
tience was, a letter. I selected yours from the number 
which they brought me. I was not disappointed. It merits 
all the eagerness with which I had expected it > # C 

You reflect, and that is a security for your conduct Our \ Y j 
most humiliating errors proceed usually from inattention, I ^^ 
and from that mental dissipation which we call heedlesuiess. 1 \^^ 
You estimate your situation with great truth. Many are sur- J 

Vol. I. — Eee 


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402 MXM0IR8 OF AARON BUER. [Aged 43. 

prised that I could repose in you so great a trust as that of 
yourself ; but I knew that you were equal to it, and I am 
* ) J not deceived. 

' ' ^ You do right to stay much at home. It will scarcely be 

worth while to go to V. P.'s. C. is excluded from all rule. 

I am quite oppressed with the kindness and friendship of b^ 

b. towards you. How fortunate you are in such a friend. 

^^^^ y ^^ ^^^' invitations should be so frequent as to interrupt your 

V^-;;.x] lessons, you will do well to refuse even them. There is a 

\\J / measure to be observed in the acceptance of the good offices 

J \y^ even of our best friends ; and at your age, to prefer duty to 

pleasure when they are in collision, is a degree of firmness 

rarely exhibited, and, therefore, the more calculated to inspire 

respect. I perceive that I am not very explicit ; but you vrill 

reflect and discern my meaning. Montesquieu said he wrote 

to make people think, and not to make them read — and why 

may not A. Br. Perhaps, however, there may be no colUs-^ 

ions ; and then your good sense will teach you not to wear 

out good-will. 

You indicate a very pleasant mode in which you suppose 
I may make you happy ; but you do not estimate things 
rightly. What you imagine to be symptoms of lore are 
the mere efiusions of politeness, added to respect and es-^ 

I forget the plan we projected, but there can be no better 
one than that of your last letter, to which, therefore, you 
may adhere, unless indeed you can invent a better. 

You may tell C. that as she and I are on ceremony y I 
shall expect the first letter. She knows well that the bare 
sight of her handvnriting would drive Le Guen and the 
parchments to the antipodes. I do thank you for your 
constancy about the French ball. Do not be alarmed lest 
I expect too much. I know your force, and now feel 
assured that I shall have reason to be more than satisfied 
both with your discretion and your attainments. 

I shall not again find time to write you two pages j so da 

Digitized by 


Aged 44.] MKMOiRS of aaron eure. 403 

not expect it Nevertheless, you will engross miich, very 
much of the thoughts and afiections of 

A. Burr 

Previous to the year 1800, slavery existed in the State of 
New- York. Colonel Burr, at different periods, was the 
owner of slaves. All those that remained in his family for 
any length of time were taught to read and write. During 
his absence from home it was his practice to correspond 
with one or more of them. As a master, he was beloved. A 
few letters are here given as specimens of this correspond- 
ence. They are copied literally, 


New-York, 3d December. - 

Honoured Master, 
I received your letter December 1st, and we are all happy 
to hear that you are well. Harry has taken the chair to the 
coachmaker's, and has gave him directions according to your 
orders. I have asked James to write to you to know how 
the venison was to be done ; but I will now have it cured 
as you have ordered. The sashes of the windows were 
nailed down the day that you went away, and the ladder 
that you mention belongs to Mr. Halsey, and he has taken 
it away. All the papers that have any writing on is put into 
the drawers, and I will take care of the ink that it does not 
freeze. Colonel Piatt was here, and has taken the four red 
cases that was in the wine-room ; and he asked me for a square 
box, and as you had not told me of it, I said that I had never 
seen it. There is nothing in the stable; but don't know 
what is in Sam's room, as he has locked the door. We 
are happy to hear that Sam, and George, and the horses 
are in good order, and all the family gives their love to 

Peggy Gartin, 


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404 MXMOiBs or AAEOK BnoL [Aged 44. 


New-YodL, 17th December. 

Honoured Master, 
I received your letter, and am happy to hear that you are 
in a good state of health. Harry went to Mr. Alston's fiami 
the day after I received the letter, and the man had gone 
away the 11th day of December. Stephen was not at 
home when he went there, and by what he could under- 
stand there was a great difference between Daniel and 
Stephen; and Harry says that for the time that he has 
been there he had not neglected his work. But, master, I 
wish to beg a favour of you ; please to grant it. I have 
found there is a day-school, kept by an elderly man and 
his wife, near to our house, and if master is willing that I 
should go to it for two months, I think it would be of great 
service to me, and at the same time I will not neglect my 
work in the house, if you please, sir. 



New-York, 29tfa December. 

Honoured Master, 
I received your letter, which has given me no satisfaction 
concerning your h^th ; and as there has been a report in 
the paper that you was wounded, it has made us very un- 
easy, supposing it to be true ; but I hope that it is not so, 
as I hear that people gives no credit to it. I go to the 
school, since master is willing, and I Uke the teacher very 
much. He pays great attention to my learning, and I have 
teached Nancy her letters ever since you have been gone, 
which I think will be of as much service to her as if she 
went to school. We are all well at present, and I hope 
that you are the same. 



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Aged 44.] MEMOIRS of aaron burr. 405 


New-York, 12th January. 
Honoured Master, 
I have received your letter of the 4th inst., and it gives 
us great happiness to hear that you are in good health, as 
all the family are except myself. I was taken sick on the 
30th of last month, so that I have not been able to go to 
school; and as I am better than I have been, to write 
these few lines ; I am tod weak t6 write Mrs. Alston, but 
Elenora's child is well. The woman came here the 7th 
of this month for the money, and Harry went to Mrs. Van 
Ness the 9lh, and she said that Mr. Van Ness did not teH 
her any thing of it, and she could not give it. 



The preceding correspondence not only introduces the 
reader into the social circle of Colonel Burr, but into the 
bosom of his family. It develops his character, so far as 
the most sacred and confidential communications can de- 
velop it — ^as a friend — a husband — a parent — and a master. 
We are approaching a period, however, in his history 
when the scene is to be changed. In the spring of 1794 
Mrs. Burr died ; and in 1801 his daughter was married, 
and removed to South Carolina. Thus terminated, in a 
great measure, all those domestic relations and enjoyments 
which had afforded him so much pleasure, and connected 
with which he had indulged the best feelings of his heart. 

Colonel Burr was a member of the Senate of the United 
States firom the 4th of March, 1791, until the 4th of March, 


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/ si} I 


1797. During this period he continued to practise the law. 
He was in that class of his profession to which belonged a 
Hamilton, a Harrison, and a Livingston. The partiality 
of some of his friends may have placed him at the head of 
the bar. His opponents ranked him second only to their 
particular favourite. As a speaker, Colonel Burr was calm 
and persuasive. He was most remarkable for the power 
which he possessed of condensation. His appeals, whether 
to a court or a jury, were sententious and lucid. His 
speeches, generally, were argumentative, short, and pithy. 
No flights of fancy, no metaphors, no parade of impassioned 
sentences, are to be found in them. When employed on 
the same side of a cause with General Hamilton, it was 
his uniform practice to permit that gentleman to select his 
own place in the cause. 

It has often been remarked that Colonel Burr's character, 
could not be better dravni than it is in a short sketch of 
his father, by Governor Livingston. " Though a person" 
(says the governor) " of a slender and delicate make, to 
encounter fatigue he has a heart of steel ; and, for the de- 
spatch of business, the most amazing talents, joined to a 
constancy of mind that ensures success in spite of every ob- 
stacle. As long as an enterprise appears not absolutely im- 
possible, he knows no discomragement ; but, in proportion to 
its difficulty, augments his diligence ; and, by an insuperable 
fortitude, frequently accomplishes what his friends and ac- 
quaintance conceive utterly impracticable .** 

In the year 1793 Albert Gallatin was appointed a sena- 
tor of the United States by the State of Pennsylvania. On 
claiming his seat in January, 1794, a petition was presented 
against his admission into that body, on the ground that he 
had not been a citizen the requisite number of years. The 
subject was referred to a committee of seven. Their re- 
port elicited a warm debate, which continued for several 
days. Colonel Burr took an active part, and greatly dis- 
tinguished himself in support of Mr. Gallatin's claim. His 


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Aged 38.] MEMOIRS of aaron burr. 407 

colleague, Mr. King, had taken the lead against the right 
of Mr. Gallatin to a seat. John Taylor, of Caroline, Vir- 
ginia, addressed a note to Colonel Burr, in which he says — 
" We shall leave you to reply to King : firsts because you 
desired it; second, all depends upon it; no one else can 
do it, and the audience will expect it." 

On the 28th of February, 1794, the Senate " Resolved, 
That the election of Albert Gallatin to be a senator of the 
United States was void, he not having been a citizen of 
the United States the term of years required as a quali- 
fication to be a senator of the United States." — ^Ays 14, 
nays 12. 

On the 20th of February, 1794, the Senate adopted a 
resolution, declaring that their galleries, at the commence- 
ment of the next session, should be opened while the 
Senate were " engaged in their legislative capacity." For 
this, or a similar resolution. Colonel Burr had voted at 
every previous session since he had been a member. 

His personal respect for John Jay has been heretofore 
mentioned ; but on no occasion did he permit such feelings 
to interfere with his political acts, when called upon to per- 
form a public duty. On the 16th of April, 1794, the presi- 
dent nominated John Jay, then chief-justice of the United 
States, as envoy extraordinary to Great Britain. On the 
19th, when the nomination was called up for consideration, 
Mr. Burr oflFered the following resolutions : — 

^^ Resolved, That any communications to be made to the 
court of Great Britain may be made through our minister 
now at that court with equal facility and effect, and at much 
less expense, than by an envoy extraordinary ; and that 
such an appointment is at present inexpedient and un- 

" That to permit judges of the Supreme Court to hold, at 
the same time, any other office or employment emanating 
from, and holden at the pleasure of, the executive, is con- 
trary to the spirit of the constitution; and, as tending to ex- 


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pose them to the influence of the executive, is lOj^MJbieyous 

and impolitic." Ays 10, nays 17. 

The nomuiation was then confirmed by a Yote of 18 to 
8, Mr. Burr Voting in the negative. This vote, it was un- 
derstood at the time, gave pain to Mr. Jay. In a letter to 
his lady, datfed the 20th of April, the judge says — " Yester 
day the Senate approved of the nomination by a great ma- 
jority. Mr. Burr was among the few who opposed itr 

About this .period the democratic party were highly in- 
censed against the president for continuing Gouvemeur Mor- 
ris as a minister to the French Republic The Executive 
Provisory Council had requested his recall. He was con- 
sidered a monarchist, and hostile to the revolution. Many 
of the opposition senators had spoken with great freedom 
of the policy of General Washington in this particular. 
These remarks having been communicated to the president, 
he expressed, informally, a vvillingness to recall Mr. Morns, 
and to nominate a member of the oppositicm, if they would 
designate a suitable person. In consequence of tliis sug- 
gestion, the democratic members of the Smisite, and some of 
the most distinguished members of the House, had a confer- 
ence, and resolved oh recommending Col(»nel Burr. Mr. 
Madison, Mr. Monroe, and another member ^ Congress 
whose name is not recollected, were delegated to wUit on 
the president and communicate the wishes of the party. 

General Washington paused for a few moments, and then 
remarked, that he had made it a rule of life never to recom- 
mend or nominate any person for a high and responsible sit* 
uation in whose integrity he had not confidence ; that, want- 
ing confidence in Colonel Burr, he could not nominate him ; 
but that it would give him great pleasure to meet their 
wishes if they would designate an individual in whom he 
could confide. The committee returned and reported the 
result of their conference. The senators adhered unani- 
mously to their first nomination, and the same delegates 
waited upon the president and reiterated the adherence of 


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Aged 39.] MEMOIRS of aaron burr. 400 

their friends to Colonel Burr. Whereupon General Wash- 
ington, with some warmth, remarked that his decision wa^ 
irrevocable ; but immediately added, " I will nominate you, 
Mr. Madison, or you, Mr. Monroe." The former repUed 
that he had long since made up his mind never to* leave his 
country, and respectfully declined the offer. They retired, 
and reported the result of their second interview. The 
democratic gentlemen were not less inflexible, and instruct- 
ed their delegates to say to the president that they would 
make no other recommendation. On the third visit they 
were received by Mr. Randolph, secretary of state, to whom 
they made the communication, but who considered it inde 
corous, knowing the president's feelings, to repeat the mes- 

This incident demonstrates, on the one hand, the strong 
and unchangeable prejudices of General Washington against 
Colonel Burr; and on the other, the firm and unbounded 
confidence reposed in him by the democracy of those days. 
The anecdote is not related on the authority exclusively of 
Colonel Burr. It is confirmed by the written statement of 
a gendeman of high standing, to whom Mr. Monroe repeat- 
ed all the details. No other selection was m^e by the op- 
position senators; but, on the 27th of May, 1794, James 
Monroe was nominated as Minister Plenipotentiary to the 
French Republic. 

On the 8th of June, 1795, the president submitted to the 
Senate of the United States the treaty negotiated with Great 
Britain by John Jay. This question called into operation 
all the powers of Mr. Burr's mind. He was opposed to it 
in the form it had been negotiated. His views and opinions 
may be distinctly understood by comparing the amendments 
which he proposed with the original treaty. On the 22d 
June the Senate resumed the consideration of it, whereupon 
he offered the foUovdng resolutions : — 

" That the further consideration of the treaty concluded 
at London the 19th of November, 1794, be postponed, and 

Vol. L— Fff 18 


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410 MBMoiEs or AAROH BBEE. [Aged 29. 

that it be recommended to the President of the United 
States to proceed without delay to further friendly negotia- 
tion with his Britannic Majesty, in order to effect alterations 
in the said treaty in the following particulars : — 

'' That the 9th, 10th, and 24th articles, and so much of 
the 2dth as relates to the shelter or refuge to be given to the 
armed vessels of states or sovereigns at war with either 
party, be expunged. 

" 2d Art. That no privilege or right be allowed to the 
settlers or traders mentioned in the 2d article, other than 
those which are secured to them by the treaty of 1783 and 
existing laws. 

*' 3d. Art. That the 3d article be expunged, or be so mod- 
ified that the citizens of the United States may have the use 
of all rivers, ports, and places within the territories of his 
Britannic Majesty in North America, in the same manner as 
^s subjects may have of those of the United States. 

*^ 6th Art. That the value of the negroes and other prop- 
erty carried away contrary to the 7th article of the treaty of 
1783, and the loss and damage sustained by the United 
States by the detention cf the postSy be paid for by the 
British government — ^the amount to be ascertained by the 
conunissioners who may be appointed to liquidate the claims 
of the British creditors. 

'' 12th Art. That what relates to the West India trade, 
and the provisos and c(»iditions thereof in the 12th artide, 
he expunged, or be rendered mudi mcnre favourable to the 
United States, and without any restraint on the eiqportation, 
m vessels of the United States, of any articles not the 
^wth, produce, or manufacture of the said islands of his 
Britannic Majesty. 

^' 15th Art. That no clause be admitted which may re- 
((train the United States fr(»n reciprocating benefits by dis- 
criminating between f(»reign nations in their commercial ar- 
rangements, or prevent them firom increasing the tonnage or 
x>ther duties on British vessels on terms of redprodty, or in 
a stipulated ratio. 


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Aged 40^] MiMoiRS of aaron burr. 411 

"21st Art. That the subjects or citizens of either party 
be not restrained from accepting commissions in the army or 
navy of any foreign power." 

In 1797, while Colonel Burr was yet a member of the 
United States Senate, his mind was occupied with the pro- 
ject of a bank, and he conferred with several of his per- 
sonal friends on the subject. Among others, he wrote the 
honourable Thomas Morris, who was at the time a member 
of the state Setnate. 


New-York, Ist Febraarjr, 1797. 


I have been informed that the present sheriflF of Putchess 
either has resigned or will decline a reappointment, and that 
Piatt Smith is among the candidates. I have very little 
personal acquaintance with Mr. Smith — ^am not, indeed, cer* 
tain that I should recognise bim if I should meet him ; but 
I have long known him by reputation, and can assure you 
that he is a man of irreproachable character, of independent 
property, and much above ordinwy in point of intelligence. 
His connexions are very influential (perhaps the most so) in 
dut county. He is, in short, a man, in my opinion, every 
way qualified to fill the office. Has always been of your 
party, and supported Jay's election. He is withal a gener* 
OU8, manly, independent fellow, of that cast which you like; 
one who will feel sensibly any favours or civilities which 
may be done him. If you should not be otherwise pledged, 
you will oblige several of your personal friends by support- 
ing his pretensions. 

I have drawn out a plan for a bank, but find that it will 
require so many explanations that I forbear to send it. I 
perceive that you are about selling our stock in the funds of 
the United States. We have already talked over this mal^ 
ter. The more I reflect, the stronger appear the objeo- 
tions. It vrill doubtless be urged in favour of an immediate 


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sale, that our funds are in danger of seizure by the United 
States. This is a mere bugbear. Such a thing will never 
again be even proposed, and, if proposed, will never receive 
three votes in the Senate. I hope, therefore, our legislature 
will not suffer themselves to be precipitated into this sale 
from any such unfounded apprehensions. 

Mr. Belasies, a gentleman, a man of education and fortune, 
by birth an Englishman, has come out with his family to 
reside in this country. If he should apply for leave to hold 
lands in this state, I hope he may be gratified ; from the little 
I have seen, and the much I have heard of him, I am per- 
suaded that he will be a valuable acquisition to any state 
and to any society. He is no politician. 

I return to-morrow to Philadelphia, where I shall remain 
for this month. May I expect to see you here in the spring ? 
Present me most respectfully to Williamson, and be assured 
of my esteem and attachment. 

A. Burr. 

In April, 1798, Colonel Burr was elected a member of 
Assembly for the city and county of New-York by the de- 
mocratic party. This year was marked with more political 
virulence than any other year since the independence of the 
country. It was during the year 1798 that the alien and se- 
dition laws were passed. In the autumn of 1798, Matthew 
Lyon, then a representative in Ccmgress frwn Vermont, was 
endicted for harbouring an intention " to stir up sedition, and 
to bring the president and government of the United States 
into contempt," &c. He was convicted, and the sentence 
was — " Matthew Lyon, it is the pleasure of this court that 
you be imprisoned four months, pay costs, and a fine of one 
thousand dollars, and stand committed until the judgment be 
complied with." This year the celebrated mission to France, 
consisting of Messrs, Marshall, Pinckney, and Gerry, exci- 
ted the attention not only of the American people, but of 
the civilized world. In short, this year the foundation 


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Aged 43.] MEMOIRS of aaron burr. 413 

was laid for the overthrow of federal power in the United 

In no section of the country was there more political ex- 
citement than in New- York. Parties were nearly balanced. 
There were only two banks in the city ; the Bank of New- 
York, and the branch of the United States Bank. They 
were charged with being influenced in their discounts by 
political considerations. At all events, they were under the 
management and control of federalists ; and to counteract 
their alleged influence, Colonel Burr was anxious fof the 
estabUshment of a democratic institution. With this view 
he proposed to obtain a charter for supplying the city with 
water ; and as it was certain that if confined to that partic- 
ular object the stock would not be subscribed, he caused 
the appUcation to be made for two millions of dollars, and 
inserted a clause in that charter, that the "surplus capital 
might be employed in any way not inconsistent with the 
laws and constitution of the United States or of the State 
of New- York." It is under this clause that the Manhattan 
Company use and exercise all the privileges of a bank. The 
directors were named in the charter, and a majori^ of them 
were of the democratic party. 

It has been said that the charter was obtained by trick 
and management y and that, if suspicion had been entertained 
by any of the federal members, Colonel Burr could not 
have got the bill through the legislature. It is due to him, 
so far as it can be justly done, to rescue his memory from 
the imputation of having misrepresented or misstated to any 
member the object he had in view. The fects in reference 
to the passage of the charter of the Manhattan Company 
through the Senate will now be given. The statement is 
upon authority that cannot be contradicted. 

When the bill had passed the Assembly and was sent to 
the Senate, Colonel Burr, during thp hours of business, went 
into the Senate Chamber, and requested a federal senator 
(now living) from the western district to move a reference 


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414 MBM0IR8 or AABON BURR* [A^d 43 

of that bill to a select committee, to report complete, which 
would supersede the necessity of its going to a committee 
of the whole. The senator replied, that though he had no 
objection to make the experiment, yet that he was persuaded 
the motion would not prevail, because the Senate, not having 
a press of business before them, uniformly refused thus com- 
mitting bills to select committees instead of a committee of 
the whole. Colonel Burr then suggested, that perhs^s if 
the mover would intimate, while on the floor, that the hon- , 
ourable Samuel Jones was contemplated as chairman of that 
committee, the confidence which the Senate was known to 
repose in him, and in his uniform attention to every thing 
relating to the city of New-York, would perhaps induce 
the Senate on this occasion to depart from its accustomed 
mode of proceeding. Accordingly the motion was made, 
and passed without opposition. 

The committee named by the honourable Stephen Van 
Rensselaer, then lieutenant-governor, were Samuel Joaef^ 
Ambrose Spencer, and Thomas Morris. It was suggested 
to <me of these gentlemen that the part of the bill author- 
izing the employment of the surplus cajHtal had better be 
steicken out of it ; in consequence of which that gentleman 
applied to Colonel Burr for an explanation on this point. 
Mr. Burr promptly and frankly informed the honourable 
Hiember, that it not only did .authorize, but that it was in- 
tended the directors should use the surplus capital in any 
way they thought expedient and proper. That they might 
have a bank, an East India Company, or any thing else that 
they deemed profitable. That the mere supplying the city 
wirfi water would not, of itself, remunerate the stockhold- 
ers. Colonel Burr added, that the senator was at liberty to 
communicate this explanation to other members, and that 
he had no secrecy on the subject. The bill was subse- 
quently reported by Mr. Jones and passed. 

This tiew of the proceedings of the legislature is sos-^ 


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Aged 49i] MEMOIRS of aaron burr. 419 

tained by what occurred in the Council of Revision, from the 
minutes of wliich an extract has been made. 

" At a meeting of the Council of Revision^ held at the 
City Hall of the City of Albany ^ on Monday, the 1st (^ 
April, 1799. 

"Present — ^His Excellency the Governor, the Honour- 
able the Chancellor, the Chief Justice, and Judge Benson. 

"Mr. Reynolds and Mr. Robbins, from the honourable the 
Assembly, delivered to the council the bill entitled An act 
for the relief of John Lansing, the bill entitled An acX 
for supplying the city of Neto-York with pure and whole-- 
some water, and the bill entitled An act to amend the stat" 
ute of limitation, and the bill entitled An act making pro^ 
vision to keep in repair the bridge over Schoharie Creek, 
at Fort Hunter, in the county of Montgomery. 

" The council proceeded to take the said bills into con- 
sideration, and thereupon 

" Resolved, That the bill entitled An act for supplying 
the city of New-York with pure and wholesome water be 
committed to the honourable the Chief Justice ; that the bill 
entitled An act to amend the statute of limitation be com- 
mitted to the honourable the Chancellor." 

" At a meeting of the Council of Revision, held at the 
City Hall of the City of Albany, on Tuesday, the 2d of 
April, 1799. 

" Present — ^His Excellency the Governor, the Honour- 
able the Chancellor, the Chief Justice, and Judge Benson. 

" The honourable the Chief Justice, to whom was com- 
mitted the bill entitled An act for supplying the city cf 
NeW'York with pure and wholesome water, reported the 
following objections, to wit : 

" Because the bill creates a corporation, with a capital <rf 
two millions of dollars, vested with the unusual power to 
divert its surplus capital to the purchase of public or other 


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L,i-,, .^"^ 


Stock, or any other moneyed transactions or operations not 
inconsistent with the constitution and laws of this state or 
of the United States, and which surplus may be applied 
to the purposes of trade, or any other purpose which the 
very comprehensive terms in which the clause is conceived 
may warrant ; this, in the opinion of the council as a novel 
experiment, the result whereof as to its influence on the 
community must be merely speculative and uncertain, pe- 
culiarly requires the application of the policy which has 
heretofore uniformly obtained, that the powers of corpora- 
tions relative to their money operations should be of limit- 
ed instead of perpetual duration.** 

" The council proceeded to take the preceding objections 
into consideration, which were overruled ; it was thereupon 

" Resolved, That it does not appear improper to the coim- 
cil that the said bill, entitled An act for supplying the city 
of New-York with pure and wholesome water, should be- 
come a law of this state. 

" Ordered, That the honourable the Chancellor deliver a 
copy of the preceding resolution, signed by his excellency 
the Governor, to the honourable the Assembly." 

" State of New'York, Secretary's Office. 
" I certify the preceding to be true extracts from the min- 
utes of the Council of Revision of this state. 

(Signed) "Archd. Campbell, 

^^ Deputy Secretary. 
''Albany, April 29th, 1836." 

Of the correctness of the above statement, and the fair- 
ness of Mr. Burr's conduct in relation to the Manhattan 
Company, there cannot be the shadow of a doubt ; but it is 
probable that a large portion of the members never attempt- 
ed to examine into the extent of the powers granted to the 
Manhattan Company ; while another portion considered the 
project of Colonel Burr, in reference to an East India Com- 


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Aged 43.] MEMOIRS of aaron burr. 417 

pany or a bioik, as chimerical and visionary. It is, how- 
ever, evident that no trick or misrepresentation was prac- 
tised to procure the passage of the bill ; unless, indeed, his 
silence on the floor of the house as to his ulterior views 
may be so construed. His object was a bank ; and when 
appealed to on this particular point, he admitted the fact. 
At all other times he remained silent on the subject. When 
the bill had passed he was lauded by the democratic party 
for his address, and they rejoiced in his success. Its po- 
litical effect was considered highly important, as it tended 
to'break down a system of pecuniary favouritism, which was 
made to operate in support of the party in power. 

During the summer of 1799 vague rumours were pri- 
vately circulated respecting certain transactions of Colonel 
Burr with the Holland Land Company. It was whispered 
that a bond, which the conipany held against him for 
twenty thousand dollars, had been given up for secret ser- 
vices rendered them. In other circles it was hinted that 
the compensation was for procuring the passage of a bill 
through the legislature authc^zing aliens to hold lands, &c. 
Connected with these rumours, John B. Church, Esq. had 
spoken with so much freedom as to produce a challenge 
from Colonel Burr. On the 2d of September, 1799, the 
parties met at Hoboken, and having exchanged a shot 
without effect, Mr. Church made the amende honorable^ 
and the affair was so satisfactorily adjusted as to restore 
the social intercourse of these gentlemen. Mr. Church 
was attended by Abijah Hammond, Esq., and Colonel Burr 
by Judge Edanus Burke, of South Carolina. 

On the ground a most ludicrous incident occurred. Pre- 
vious to leaving the city of New- York, Colonel Burr pre- 
sented to Judge Burke his pistol-case. He explained to 
the judge that the balls were cast intentionally too small ; 
that chamois leather was cut to the proper size to put 
round them, but that the leather must be greased (for 
which purpose grease was placed in the case), or that 

Vol. L— Ggg 18* 


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c^/jy^f^""' u<j^^^<i v^^^'^''' ^^y^ 


there would be a difficulty in getting the ball home. After 
the parties had taken their stand, Colonel Burr noticed the 
judge hammering the ramrod with a stone, and imme* 
diately suspected the cause. When the pistol was handed 
him by his friend, he drew the ramrod, and ascertained that 
the ball was not home, and so informed the judge; to 
which Mr. Burke replied, " I forgot to grease the leather ; 
but you see he is ready, don't keep him waiting ; jmt take 
a crack as it isy and Fll grease the next r Colonel Burr 
bowed courteously, but made no reply, and discharged his 
}H8tol in the state it had been given to him. The anec'> 
dote for some time after was the subject of merriment 
among those who had heard it. 

No explanation was ever given, it is believed, of the 
tfttnsactions between Colonel Burr and the Holland Land 
Company. It was his practice to let his actions speak for 
themselves, and to let the world construe them as they 
pleased. This was a great error, and was the source in 
after life of much trouble and suffering to him, yet he 
would not depart from it. A few weeks subsequent to 
this duel, however, he received from a friend a kind letter, 
asking confidentially an explanation of these transactions, 
to which he replied. 


New-York, 6th October, 1799. 

Dear Sir, 

I cannot refuse to the manner of your request, nor to 
the friendly motives which have produced it, to satisfy 
your inquiries with regard to Witbeck's bond and the Hol- 
land Company. 

In December, 1796 or 1796, I forget which, I entered 
into a covenant with the Holland Company for the pur- 
chase of one hundred thousand acres of land, at twelve 
shillings per acre, payable by instalments. The covenant 
contained a penalty of twenty thousand dollars; as secu- 


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Aged 43.] MEMOIRS of aaron burr. 419 

rity on my part for this penalty, in case it sbould become 
due, I mortgaged to Cazenoye, or the Holland Company, 
twenty thousand acres of land in Presque Isle, being one 
hundred shares of two hundred acres each in the Popuk^ 
tion Company, and I assigned to him Thomas L. Witbeck's 
bond, payable to me, for twenty thousand ddlars, as further 
collateral security. 

In the fall of 1797 Cazenove joined with me in a power 
of attorney to James Wadsworth, then in Europe, for the 
sale of one hundred thousand acres, and, until the summer 
or fall of the year following, we had reason to beliete that 
they were or would be sold, which of course would hare 
terminated all questions about the penalty. Some time 
in the year 1797 or 1798, it was noised in Albany that 
Thomas L. Witbeck had given a bond for twenty thousand 
dollars, and his credit at the bank and elsewhere became 
affected by it. He wrote me often on the subject. In re* 
ply, I begged him to explain that the bond was not for the 
payment of money, and that, even if it should become for- 
feited, the twenty thousand acres of Presque Isle lands 
were alone a sufficient security. Witbeck, however, con- 
tinued to be uneasy (gt his credit, and teased me to take up 
his bond by giving other security. I thought this rathef 
unkind, and id not trouble myself about it. Indeed, I 
was in hopes that the sale of the land in Europe would 
have closed the transaction. Not long after this, I think in 
November last, Cazenove informed me that he had been 
applied to by Witbeck to change that security, and added 
that he was willing to change it for one of equal solidiqf, 
provided it would not impair his rights. 

Witbeck's importunities continued, and he became so 
very urgent and repeated that I was finally (November 
last), long after the passing of the alien bill, induced to oflfar 
A. I. Frederick Provost's bond in the place of Witbeck*«. 
Cazenove took time to consider and inquire ; and finding, in 
feet, that Prevoet*s bond was a much better one than Wii- 


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beck's, agreed to take it. Pievost accordiDgly executed to 
me a bond for twenty thousand dollars, of which Harrison 
drew a special assignment to the Holland Company. We 
made a memorandum that this exchange should not vary 
the rights of the parties (viz., the Holland Company and 
Aaron Burr), and Thomas L. Witbeck's bond was given 
up. In this transaction I never suspected that Cazenove 
imagined that he was doing a favour either to me oi Tho- 
mas L. Witbeck, and I am confident that he never enter- 
tained so absurd a belief. It was virith great reluctance 
that I gave Prevost's bond. I had claims on Witbeck 
which justified m^ in exposing him to some hazard. Pre- 
vost had a family, a clear, independent estate, and did not 
owe a cent in the world ; but he had better nerves than Wit- 
beck, and would not tease me. 

About this time we learned that all prospect of selling 
the land in Europe had failed, and as I never had an expec- 
tation of paying except firom the land itself, it became ne- 
cessary to dose the transaction. It should be observed, that 
soon after my contract with Cazenove he received orders, as 
he informed me, to sell no more under sixteen shillings (two 
dollars), and afterward I understood that he had raised tibe 
price to twenty shillings. In December last we bad several 
conferences for the purpose of settling this business. I of- 
fered to give back the land and cancel the covenants. He 
talked of the penalty. I replied that he would only recover 
the damages sustained, which, by his own accoimt, were 
nothing ; for, as the price of the land was raised to twenty 
shillings, the Holland Company would, by their own esti- 
mation, gain one hundred thousand dollars by taking back 
the land. He appeared to feel the unreasonableness of his 
demand, and finally evaded my proposal by questicmkig his 
own authority. This I ccmsidered as a pret^u^e; some ir- 
ritation ensued, and we parted without concluding any thing. 

Thus the matter remained until May last (1799X when 
our negotiations were renewed. After various overtures 


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Aged 43.] MEMOIRS of aaron bvrr. 421 

and propositions on either side, it was at length agreed that 
I should convey to the Holland Company, absolutely, the 
twenty thousand acres Presque Isle lands. That this should 
be received in discharge of the advances that Cazenove had 
made thereon, and in full satisfaction of all damages claim 
ed on the covenants; and that thereupon the covenants 
should be cancelled, the bond of I. A. Frederick Prevost be 
given up, and the Holland Company take back their lands. 
This was accordingly done a few days before Cazenove 
sailed for Europe, which was, I think, in June last. 

I should have noted, that about the year 1792 or 1793, I 
became jointly concerned vnth the Holland Company and 
sundry individuals in the purchase from the State of Penn- 
sylvania of the whole Presque Isle angle, and of other lands 
adjoining to the amount of a million of acres. The asso- 
ciation was called the Population Company, and was under 
the management of directors, who had a right to assess on 
the proprietors or associates any sums they might think 
proper to promote the settlements required by the patents. 
My interest was one hundred shares, or twenty thousand 
acres, for which I had paid, at the time I mortgaged to Caz- 
enove, upwards of seven thousand five hundred dollars. 
The thing was considered as extremely valuable, and I have 
no doubt but my interest would, if I could have retained it 
five years, have been worth to me more than one himdred 
thousand dollars. Lands vnthin the angle were last year 
sold at twenty dollars per acre. 

Though it be obvious that no damages were due or coiild 
have been recovered by the Holland Company on the pen- 
alty contained in«the covenants, yet I had several motives to 
urge me to some sacrifice in order to get rid of the busi- 
ness. First. I could not repay the advances made by Caz- 
enove, which amounted to several thousand dollars. Second. 
I^could not bear to give any uneasiness to Frederick Pre- 
vost, which might have been the consequence of a legal pro- 
ceeding. Third. I was a little apprehensive of being sued 


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4ftft UBiioms OP AARON BURR. [Aged 43. 

on the covenants for payment of the purchase money. Caz- 
enove, on his part, had but a single motive, to wit-'— he found 
that these lands were all I had to give, and that a suit would 
have produced only expense. 

The aforegoing facts are substantially known to Le Roy, - 
Bayard, and McEvers, and to Harrison and Ogden. The 
two last were consulted on the closing of the business in 
May and June last (1799). The {ormer of them, Harrison, 
several times on the exchange of the bonds. I have not 
spoken to either of those gentlemen on the subject since the 
transactions took {dace ; but any person is at liberty to do it 
who may choose to take the trouble. 

I have given you a summary of my whole concern vrith 
Cazenove and the Holland Company, not knowing what part 
of it might tend to elucidate your inquiries. 

By those who know me, it will never be credited that any 
man on earth would have the hardiness even to propose to 
me dishonourable compensations ; but this apart, the absur- 
dity of the calunmy you allude to is obvious from the fol* 
lowing data, resulting from the deeds and known facts : 

That at the time the Alien Bill was under consideration, 
and long after, the bond, the covenant, and the penalty were 
objects of no concern, as we had reason to believe that the 
lands were or would be sold in Europe, so as to leave me a 

That Witbeck's bond was never given up^ but exchanged 
for one more safe and valuable : 

That I had not, nor by possibility could have, any inter 
est in this exchange, as it was retieving one friend to involve 
another still more dear to me : • 

That, so far from any understanding between Cazenove 
and me, we had controversies about the very bond and pen- 
alty for more than a year after the passing of '^ the Alien 

That no pari of the penalty was ever due from me to the 
Holland Company ; and that of course, they could never 


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Aged 44.] MKMOiEs of aaron bure. 428 

have demanded the bond, which waa expressly a security 
for the penalty, and not for the payments : 

That nevertheless 1 did finally give Cazenove a valuable 
and exorbitant compensation to induce him to cancel the 
covenants and discharge the penalty. 

This, sir, is the first time in my life that I have conde- 
scended (pardcm the expression) to refute a calumny. I 
leave to my actions to speak for themselves, and to my char- 
acter to confound the fictions of slander. And on this very 
subject I have not up to thisTiour given one word of expla- 
nation to any human being. All the explanation that can be 
given amounts to no more than this — That the thing is an 
absolute and abominable Ue. I feel that the present detail 
is useless and trifling ; but you have asked with good-na- 
ture, and I could not, with the appearance of good-nature, 
refuse. I pardon you the labour I have had in writing, and 
for that which you will have in reading no apology can be 
due from 

Your friend and obedient servant, 

A. Burr. 

In January, 1801, Colonel Burr's daughter Theodosia 
was married to Joseph Alston, Esq., of South Carolina. Mr. 
Alston was in his twenty-second, Miss Burr in her eigh- 
teenth year. He was a gentleman of talents and fortune, and 
a few years after his marriage was chosen governor. Some 
opinion of his style of writing may be formed by his de- 
fence of early marriages ; while that portion of his letter 
which relates to his native state cannot be uninteresting to 
South Carolinians. 


New-Yofk, Januarjr ISfth, 1801. 

I have afready written to you by the post to tell you that 
I shall be happy to see you whenever you choose; that I 
soppose is equivalent to very soon ; and that you may no 


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iSt/i 1IBM0IK8 OF AARON Bmut. [Aged 44« 

Itmger feel doubts or suspicions on my account, I repeat 
the invitation by a packet as less dilatory than the mail ; but 
for all these doubts and suspicions I will take ample re- 
venge when we meet. 

I yesterday received your letter of the 26th of December, 
and am expecting your defence of early marriages to-day. 
My father laughs at my impatience to hear from you, and 
says I am in love ; but I do not believe that to be a fair de 
duction, for the post is really very irregular and slow — enough 
so to provoke anybody. 

We leave this for Albany on the 26th inst., and shall re- 
main there tiU the lOth February. My movements will af- 
ter that depend upon my father and you. I had intended 
not to marry this twelvemonth, and in that case thought it 
wrong to divert you from your present engagements in Ca- 
rolina ; but to your solicitations I yield my judgment. Adieu. 
I wish you many returns of the century. 

l4Ui January. 

I have not yet received your promised letter ; but I hope 
it may be long in proportion to the time I have been expect- 
ing it. The packet has been delayed by head-winds, but 
now that they are fair she will have a quick passage ; at 
least such I wish it. Adieu, encote. 


josxph alston to thbodosia burr. 

Charleaton, S. C. December 88th, 1800. 

Aristotle says '^ that a man should not marry before he is 
six-and-thirty :" pray, Mr. Alston, what arguments have you 
to oppose to such authority? Hear me, Miss Burr. 

It has always been my practice, whether from a natural 
independence of mind, from pride, or what other cause I 
will not pretend to say, never to adopt the opinion of any 
one, however respectable his authority, unless thoroughly 
convinced by his arguments ; the '^ ipse dixit,** as logicians 


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Aged 44.] 



term it, even of Cicero, who stands higher in my estimation 
than any other author, would not have the least weight with 
me ; you must therefore, till you offer better reasons in sup- 
port of his opinion than the Grecian sage himself has done, 
excuse my differing from him. 

Objections to early marriages can rationally only arise 
from want of discretion or want of fortune in the parties ; 
now, as you very well observe, the age of discretion is 
wholly uncertain, some men reaching it at twenty, others at 
thirty, some again not till fifty, and many not at all; of 
course, to fix such or such a period as the proper one for 
marrying, is ridiculous. Even the want of fortune is to be 
considered differently, according to the country where the 
marriage is to take place ; for though in some places a for- 
tune is absolutely necessary to a man before he marries, 
there are others, as in the eastern states for example, where 
he marries expressly for the purpose of making a fortime. 

But, allowing both these objections their full force, may 
there not be a single case that they do not reach ? Suppose 
(for instance^ merely) a young man nearly two-and-twenty, 
already of the greatest discretion, with an ample fortune, 
were to be passionately in love with a young lady almost 
eighteen, equally discreet with himself, and who had a ^' sin* 
cere friendship^ for him, do you think it would be necessary 
to make him wait till thirty ? particularly where the friends 
on both sides were pleased with the match. 

Were I to consider the question personally, since you 
allow that "individual character" ought to be consulted, no 
objection clearly could be made to my marrying early. 

From my father's plan of education for me, I may 
properly be called a hot-bed plant. Introduced from my 
infancy into the society of men, while yet a boy I was ac- 
customed to think and act like a man. On every occasimi, 
however important, I was left to decide for myself; I do not 
recollect a single instance where I was controlled even by 
advice; for it was my father's invariable maxim, that the 

VoL.1.— Hhh 19 


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[Aged 44. 

\ best way of strengthening the judgment was to suffer it to 
\ be constantly exercised. Before seventeen I finished my 
\ college education; before twenty I was admitted to the 
I bar. Since that time 1 have been constantly travelling 
through different parts of the United States ; to what pur- 
pose I leave you to determine. 

From this short account of myself you may judge whether 
my manners and sentiments are not, by this time, in some 
degree formed. 

But let us treat the subject abstractedly; and, as we have 
shown that under particular circumstances no disadvantages 
result from early marriages, let us see if any positive advan- 
tages attend them. 

Happiness in the marriage state, you will agree with me, 
can only be obtained from the most complete congeniality 
of mind and disposition, and the most exact similarity of 
habits and pursuits ; now, though their natures may gener- 
ally resemble, no two persons can be entirely of die same 
mind and disposition, the same habits and pursuits, unless 
after the most intimate and early association ; I say early ^ 
for it is in youth only the mind and disposition receive the 
complexion we would give tliem ; it is then only that our 
habits are moulded or our pursuits directed as we please ; 
as we advance in life they become fixed and unchangeable, 
and instead of our governing them, govern us. Is it not 
therefore better, upon every principle of happiness, that per- 
sons should marry young, when, directed by mutual friend- 
ship, each might assimilate to the other, than wait x till a 
period when their passions, their prejudices, their habits, &c. 
become so rooted that there neither exists an inclination nor 
power to correct them ? Dr. Franklin, a very strong advo- 
cate for my system, and, I think, at least as good authority 
as Aristotle, very aptly compares those who mairy early to 
two young trees joined together by the hand of the gardener ; 

"Trank knit with trank, and branch with branch intwined, 
Adf ancing itill, more closely they are join*d ; 


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Aged 44.] 



At length, full grown, no difiference we §ee, 
But» 'stead of two, behold a single tree !'** 

Those, on the other hand, who do not many till late, say 
" thirty," for example, he likens to two ancient oaks ; 

** Use all your force, they yield not to yodr hand, 
But firmly in their usual stations stand ; 
While each, regardless of the other's views. 
Stubborn and fix'd, it's natural bent pursues !"t 

But this is not all ; it is in youth that we are best fitted to 
enjoy that exquisite happiness which the marriage state is 
capable of affording, and ^he remembrance of which forms 
so pleasing a link in that chain of friendship that binds to 
each other twa persons who haye lived together any num* 
ber of years. Our ideas are then more refined ; every gen- 
erous and disinterested sentiment beats higher ; and our sen- 
sibility is far more aUve to every emotion our associate may 
feel. Depend upon it, the man who does not love till 
" thirty" will never, never love ; long before that period, he 
will become too much enamoured of his own dear self to 
think of transferring his affections to any other object. He 
may marry, but iiiterest alone will direct him in the ch<HGe 
of his wife ; far from regarding her as the swei^test friend 
and companion of his Ufe, he will consider her but as an 
unavoidable encumbrance upon the estate she brings him. 
And can you really hope, my Theodosia, with all your in- 
genuity, to convince me that such a being will enjoy eqiMtl 
happiness in marriage with me ? with me, about to enter 
into it with such rapture ; who anticipate so perfect a heaven 
from our uniting in every study, improving our minds to* 
gether, and informing each other by our mutual assistance 
and observations ? No — I give you full credit for your tal- 
ents, but there are some causes so bad that even you can- 
not support them. 

Enough, however, of this topic till we meet; I have 
already given you a volume of tionsense upon it. 


* Manntcript poem of my own. 



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, 428 MSM01&8 OF AARON BURE. [Aged 44. 

Now for the fable, I cannot call it description, your 
I **dear friends** have given you of this state. " The coun- 
J try," they say, because of the marshy grounds, " is rendered 
' continually unhealthy with fever and agues." One would 
/ really conclude from this that we were a good representa- 
^ tion of a meeting of Shaking (Quakers. Alas ! beautiful 
and romantic hills of Carolina, which the dehghted traveller 
80 often stops to admire ; fair and fertile plains interspersed 
with groves of the orange, the lemon, and the myrtle, which 
fling such healthfril fragrance to the air, where are ye fled ? 
Has some earthquake, some sudden and dreadful concus- 
sion of nature, ingulfed you? No! You still remain for 
the delight and ornament of our country; you have lost 
existence only in the imagination of some beau or belle of 
New-York ; who, ignorant of the geography and appear- 
ance of the most celebrated states, believes every other 
place except the Park and the Battery a desert or a marsh. 
But let us proceed : — ^^ As to Charleston, an annual epi- 
demic, joined to the yells of whipped negroes, which assail 
your ears from every house, and die extreme heat, make it 
a perfect purgatory !" What! is Charleston, the most de- 
lightfrdly situated city in America, which, entirely open to 
the ocean, twice in every twenty-four hours is cooled by 
the refreshing Seabreeze, the Montpelier of the south, which 
annually affords an asylum to the planter and the West- 
Indian from every disease, accused of heat and unhealthi- 
ness? — Island of Calypso, where reigned perpetual spring ! 
may we not, after this, expect thy flower-enamelled fields 
to be metamorphosed into dreary wastes of snow, and the 
sweet concerts of the feathered choir, which elysionized 
thy woods, converted into the howling of the tiger, or the 
horrid bark of the wolf? But this is not all, unfortunate 
citizens of Charleston ; your disposition has been even still 
1 more outraged than your climate. Your mildness, human- 
\ ity, and benevolence, are •ho more; cruelty, barbarity, a 
sanguinary love of torture, are now your distinguishing 


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Aged 44.] 



characteristics ; the scream, the yell of the miserable, un- 
resisting African, bleeding under the scourge of relentless 
power, affords music to your ears ! Ah ! from what un- 
friendly cause does this arise ? Has the God of heaven, in 
anger, here changed the order of nature? In every other 
region, without exception, in a similar degree of latitude, 
the same sun which ripens the tamarind and the anana, 
ameliorates the temper, and disposes it to gentleness and 
kindness. In India and other countries not very different 
in cUmate from the southern parts of the United States, the 
inhabitants are distinguished for a softness and inoffensive- 
ness of manners, degenerating almost to effeminacy ; it is 
here then, only, that we are exempt from the general influ- 
ence of climate : here only that, in spite of it, we are cruel 
and ferocious ! Poor Carolina ! 

" The state of society, too, is equally inviting. The men 
and women associate very little ; the former employ them- 
selves either in the business of life, or in hunting, horse* 
racing, and gaming ; while the latter meet in large parties, 
composed entirely of themselves, to sip tea and look prim !" 
Would a stranger who had been among us, who had wit- 
nessed the polished state of our society, the elegance of 
our parties, the ease and sociability of manners which pre- 
vail there, the constant and agreeable intercourse between 
the sexes, the accomplishments of our ladies, that proud 
and elevated spirit among the men which would feel '^ a 
stain like a wound," believe the account you have written 
meant as a picture of South Carolina ? Would he believe, 
still further, that it was drawn by an American ? No. He 
would suppose it'the production of some jaundiced foreign- 
er, who had never visited us, and who set down every 
thing out of his own country as rude and Gothic. Now I 
recollect Morse gives a description something like this of 
North Carolina ; and I suspect your " friends'* stole their 
account, with a little exaggeration, from him, but mistook 
the state. 


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430 MSMOIR8 OF AARON BURE. [Aged 44. 

I have now replied to the fable of your "dear friends" in 
a veritable style ; but, setting aside rhapsody, if you have 
time to read it, I will give you a proper and impartial 
account of our comitry in a few words. Possibly it may 
serve to amuse you, if still confined by your ankle. 

For about sixty or seventy miles from the seacoast, the 
land is, perhaps, more uninterruptedly level than any equal 
tract of territory in the United States ; from that distance it 
gradually becomes more hilly, till, as you advance into the 
interior, you become entangled in that chain of mountains 
which, rising in the back parts of Pennsylvania, runs 
through that state, touches a comer of Maryland, and, ex* 
tending through North Cardina, South Carolina, and Geor* 
gia, forms a line between the Adantic and transatlantic 
states. In upper Carolina it is as healthy as anywhere on 
the continent. The people are robust, active, and have a 
colour as fine as those of Rhode Island. In the low coun* 
try, it is true, we are visited by "the fevers and agues'* you 
mention, but it is only at a particular season, and near the 
banks of the rivers. In this we are by no means singular; 
those who reside on the borders of the lakes, the Connecti- 
cut, the Delaware, and the Potomac, are equally exposed. 
On the seacoast we again find health ; Charleston, till vnthin 
a few years past, was remarkably healthy. Since '93 it has 
been afflicted, at difierent times, during the summer, with an 
epidemic, which has certainly proved extremely fatal ; but 
ought it to be called an " annual visitant" here any more 
than at Boston, New-York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, &c., 
all of which places have been equaUy, and some of them 
more, afflicted by it ? 

With regard to our manners ; if there is any state which 
has a claim to superior refinement, it is certainly South 
Carolina. Generally speaking, we are divided into but 
two classes, very rich and very poor ; which, if no advan* 
tage in a political view, is undoubtedly favourable to a 
polished state of society. .Our gentlemen having large for- 


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Aged 44.] MBM01R8 of aaron burr. 431 

tunes, and being very little disposed by the climate to the 
drudgery of business or professions, have full leisure for 
the attainment of polite hterature, and what are usually 
called accomplishments ; you therefore meet with f^w of 
them who are not tolerably well informed, agreeable com- 
panions, and completely well bred. The possession of 
slaves renders them proud, impatient of restraint, and gives 
them a haughtiness of manner which, to those unaccus* 
tomed to them, is disagreeable ; but we find among them a 
high sense of honour, a delicacy of sentiment, and a liber- 
aUty of mind, which we look for in vain in the more com- 
mercial citizens of the northern states. The genius of the 
Carolinian, like the inhabitants of all southern countries, is 
quick, lively, and acute ; in steadiness and perseverance he 
is naturally inferior to the native of the north ; but this de- 
fect of climate is often overcome by Kis ambition or neces- 
sity ; and, whenever this happens, he seldom fails to dis- 
tinguish himself. In his temper he is gay and fond of 
company, open, generous, and unsuspicious ; easily irrita- 
ted, and quick to resent even the appearance of insult ; but 
his passion, like the fire of the flint, is lighted up and ex- 
tinguished in the same moment. I do not mention his hos- 
pitality and kindness to strangers, for they are so conunon 
they are no longer esteemed virtues ; like conunon honesty, 
they are noticed only when not possessed. Nor is it for 
the elegance of their manners only that the South Caro- 
linians are distinguished; sound morahty is equally con- 
spicuous among them. Gaming, so far from being a fash- 
ionable vice, is confined entirely to the lower class of peo- 
ple ; among gendemen it is deemed disgraceful. Many of 
them, it. is true, are fond of the turf; but they pursue the 
sports of it merely as an amusement and recreation, not a 
business. As to hunting, the country gentlemen occasion- 
ally engage in it, but surely there is nothing criminal in 
ibis ! From my education and other pursuits I have sel- 


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432 MKMoiRs OF AARON BURR. [Aged 44. 

dom participated in it myself; but I consider it, above all 
exercises, the most manly and healthful. 

But come, let us dismiss the gentlemen and their amuse- 
ments, and take up the female part of the community. 

The ladies of Carolina, I confess, are not generally as 
handsome as those of the northern states ; they want that 
bloom which, in the opinion of some, is so indispensable an 
ingredient in beauty; but their paleness gives them an ap- 
pearance of delicacy and languor which is highly interest- 
ing. Their education is perhaps more attended to than 
anywhere else in the United States ; many of them are well 
informed, all of them accomplished. For it would be far 
more unpardonable in a girl to enter a room or go through 
a Congo ungracefully, than to be ignorant of the most com- 
mon event in history or the first principles of arithmetic. 
They are perfectly 6asy and agreeable in their manners, 
and remarkably fond of company ; no Charleston belle ever 
felt " ennui" in her life. In the richness of their dress and 
the splendour of their equipages they are unrivalled. From 
their early introduction into company, and their constant 
and unreserved intercourse with the other sex, they gener- 
ally marry young ; and if their husbands want only compan- 
ions for the theatre or the concert-room, or scmie one to talk 
over the scandal of the day with wh^n at home^ they make 
tolerable wives. As we have now brought them to the 
" ne plus ultra" of human happiness, marriage, we will leave 
them there, and so finish our description. 

The reason of your not hearing from me so Icmg after 
your return to New- York was this : not knowing till you 
wjrote me from Ballston how my letters would be received, 
I was really afraid to venture writing. 

You ask how Miss P. walks ? If it is your object, as 
you say, from knowing how you stand with her in point of 
forces, to preserve better what you have won, receive a 
general lesson. " Continue in every respect exactly as you 
are, and you please me most." 


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Aged 44.] MBMoiRs op aaron bvbk. 48t 

Yoii wish me to acquire Frenchi I already uhdemtand 
something oi it, and, with a little practiee, would soon speak 
it. I promise you^ therefore, if you become my instructress, 
in less than ttro months after our marriage to converse with 
you entirely in that language. I fix the period after oui 
marriage, for I cannot think of being corrected in the mis- 
takes I may make by any other jtorson than my wife. Sup- 
pose, till then, you return to your Latin, and prepare to usq 
that tongue with me, since you are averse to one underslood 
by all the canaille. Adieu. I have literally given you a 
folio volume. 

Yours, nay dear Theodosia, 

Jos. Alston. 

P. S. The arrangement you speak of propoaiiifg in your 
letter for an interview has determined me. I shall there-* 
fore sail certainly in a few days. Winds be propitious ! 

Miss Burr. 

In April, 1799, the federal party were triumphant in the 
State of New-York. The city was entitled to thirteen 
members of Assembly. They were federalists, and wer« 
elected by an average majority of 944 ; the whole number 
of votes being about 6000. Colonel Burr during this yeaif 
was not in public life, but he was tiot an idle spectator of 
passing events. The year following a President* of the 
United States was to be elected. It was now certain, that 
unless the vote of the State of New- York could be obtained 
for Mr. Jefferson, he could not be elected. It was equally 
certain, that miless the city could be carried by the demo- 
cratic party, the state would remain in the hands of the fed^ 
eralists. ^ 

During the winter of 1799 and the spring of 1800, Col- 
onel Burr commenced a system of party organization for 
the approaching contest. The presidential electors were at 
that time chosen by the legislature, meeting in joint ballot 
Hii9 first object was to secure such a committee of nomination 

Vol. I.— lii 19 


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484 MBMoiRS OF AARON BURB. [Aged 44. 

for the city and county of New-York as, in the selection of 
candidates for the assembly, would be influenced by his rec- 
ommendation. His opinion, often expressed to his confiden- 
tial friends during the winter of 1800, was, that without a 
most powerful ticket there was no prospect of success ;^ with 
such a ticket and proper exertions it could be elected. He 
entertained no doubt (and the result proved that he was, cor- 
rect), that cm the city and county of New- York were sus- 
pended the destinies of the country, whether for good or 
whether for ill. These riews and these opinions were pre-, 
sented and enforced by him for days, and weeks, and 
months previous to the election upon all the young and ar- 
dent politicians of the city with whom he had any inter- 
course. The effect of which was, that when the crins ar- 
rived, every member of the party seemed to feel the great 
responsibility which rested upon him. 

The next object with Colonel Burr was to inculcate har- 
mony in the party and concert in action. It was known 
that a most unconquerable jealousy existed between die 
CUnton and Livingston families and the adherents of those 
factions. The Clintons and their supporters were anti-fed- 
eralists. The Livingstons were not less distinguished as 
federalists, until some time after the organization of the gen- 
eral government under the new constitution. Colonel Burr 
enforced, in mild and persuasive terms, the necessity of sac- 
rificing all prejudices and partialities ; of surrendering all 
personal and ambidous considerations ; of standing shoul- 
der to shoulder, and uniting in one great effort to rescue the 
country from misrule. By the most unceasing perseverance 
he succeeded in both these objects. 

Every section of the democratic party felt the necessity 
ci Colonel Burr's being a member of the legislature that 
was to choose the electors ; but a difficulty arose. It was 
understood that General Hamilton would personally attend 
the several polls during the three days of election ; that he 
would counsel and advise with his political firiends, and that 


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Aged 44.] MEMOIRS of aaron burr. 435 

he would address the people. Here again aU seemed to 
feel that Colonel Burr was the man, and perhaps the only 
man, to meet General Hamilton on such an occasion. But 
if his name was on the Assembly ticket as a candidate, his 
personal exertions during the election would be lost to the 
party. To place him in that situation appeared to many like 
abandoning the field without a struggle to the federalists. In 
this dilemma, the county of Orange patriotically came for- 
ward and nominated him as a candidate on their Assembly 
ticket, thus leaving him free to act in the city of New- York y 
and by the people of Orange Colonel Burr was elected a 
member of the legislature. 

All the details connected with the formation of the As* 
sembly ticket in April, 1800, for the city and county of 
New-York, will be given hereafter. The result is known. 
It succeeded. The legislature was democratic. Presiden- 
tial electors of the democratic party were appointed. Col- 
onel Burr's services were appreciated by the democracy in 
every section of the country, and he was nominated on the 
ticket with Mr. Jefierson for the offices of President and 
Vice President of the United States. By the constitution, 
as it was originally adopted, the person who had the great- 
est number of votes, provided they were a majority of the 
whole number given, was president; and the person having 
the next highest number, with the like proviso, was vice- 
president. When the ballots were examined, it appeared 
that Mr. Jefferson and Colonel Burr were the two highest 
candidates, and that their votes were equal. By the pro- 
visions of the constitution, it devolved upon the House of 
Representatives of the United States^ voting by states, to 
designate which of these gentlemen should be president, 
and which vice-president. 

On proceeding to the ballot a contest ensued, which lasted 
for several days, producing the most implacable and bitter 
animosities ; a contest which terminated in the election of 
Mr. Jefferson and the ruin of Colonel Burr. Until within 


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486 MSMoiRB OF AASOM Bvm& [Aged 44. 

ft few years that scene has been completely enveloped hi 
mystery. A part of the incidents connected with it, how- 
ever, in a fugitive form, are before the world. But the pc^ 
riod has arrived when the question should be met with manljr 
firmness ; when the voice of history should smnoi&ce to 
posterity the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the 
truth, so far as it can be ascertained. The generation which 
were the actors in those scenes have passed away. The 
parties immediately interested are sleeping the sleep of 
death. Few, very few indeed now living, understand the 
nature of that contest. The curtain shall be drawn aside. 
The documents which develop its character, and which are 
scattered in fragments, will be brought together, and re- 
corded (it is hoped) in a permanent and tangible form. 

It will be seen that the inunediate friends and advisers of 
Mr. Jefferson, imtil within a few hours of the balloting, had 
no confidence in certain leading and distinguished members 
of Ccmgress, whose names shdl be given, but who, on hm 
coming into power, promptly received the most si^bstantial 
evidence of his kind feelings by appointments to pffice. The 
clearest evidence will be presented that Mr. Jefferson en- 
tered into terms and conditions with the federal party or 
sotae of their leaders ; that the honourable James A. Bayard, 
of Delaware, acted on the part of the federalists, and the 
honourable Samuel Smith, of Maryland, at present mayor 
of Baltimore, on die part of Mr. Jefferson ; and that terms 
and conditions were agreed upon between them before Mr^ 
Jefferson could be elected ; while, on the other hand, it 
wfll be demonstrated thzX the charges which have been made 
against Colonel Burr of having intrigued and negotiated with 
the -federal party to obtain the office of president were aft 
unjust as they were groundless. But " I come to bUry 
Ceuu^y not to praise him.^ 



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